The Navajo Nation announced on Friday that it will implement a three-week lockdown for the reservation amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
Navajo Nation reported 97 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing its cumulative total up to 13,897. The reservation reported 598 total deaths.
President Jonathan Nez said in a statement that 34 communities in the nation have “uncontrolled spread” of the virus, and warned that its healthcare system cannot sustain a long-term increase in infections.
“We are inching closer and closer to a major public health crisis in which we could potentially see our hospitals filling up with patients,” Nez said. “Our healthcare system on the Navajo Nation cannot sustain a long-term surge in COVID19 cases. The safest place to be is at home here on the Navajo Nation.”
Under the three-week lockdown, individuals can only leave their homes for emergencies or perform essential activities like obtaining food or groceries, medicine, and gathering firewood with a permit. Individuals are also advised to refrain from off-reservation travel, and to not gather with anyone outside of their immediate household.
Essential businesses, including gas stations, food establishments, laundromats and grocery stores, are allowed to operate between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. MST daily. Food establishments can only operate for curbside or drive-thru services.
The lockdown goes into effect on Nov. 16 and will remain in effect through Dec. 6.
A separate executive order will require government offices and enterprises in the territory to close during that time, except for those deemed “essential employees.” Schools and early childhood programs will also move to online learning for that period.
The nation implemented a 56-hour weekend curfew at 9 p.m. on Friday, which will last until 5 a.m. MST on Nov. 16.