WINDOW ROCK, Navajo Nation — Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren announced in coordination with the Navajo Department of Health and Speaker Pro Tem of the Navajo Nation Council Otto Tso the COVID-19 mask mandate on the Navajo Nation has been lifted effective at 5 p.m. on Friday.
The public health emergency order applies to public spaces, which include the 110 chapters, according to the Navajo Office of Environmental Health and Protection. The order leaves the continued wearing of masks optional for the general public and for all businesses with four exceptions.
“It’s time for the Navajo people to get back to work,” President Nygren said. “It’s time for them to be able to open their chapter houses to conduct local business and to receive services they are asking for and deserve.”
The order states: “This past week …, the Navajo Nation has encountered 81 cases with a 7-day incidence rate of 51 cases per 100,000 people. The core metric measure of hospital beds is at 1.8%; 3.27 admissions per 100,000 people as of January 18, 2023, which is classified as low risk.”
The indoor mask requirement applies now only to early childhood education, primary and secondary schools, nursing homes, healthcare facilities and those who have COVID-19 symptoms, test positive or were exposed, the order states.
“With the executive mandate being lifted, I want to ensure our people the welfare of our communities, families, and elders is still a top priority. As we move forward, our Nation’s safety will lie directly in our hands, a responsibility that should not be taken lightly, so I ask you to continue taking precautionary measures,” said Pro Tem Speaker Otto Tso. “Additionally, I want to thank President Dr. Buu Van Nygren and Vice President Richelle Montoya for taking this step in opening the Navajo Nation. I extend my gratitude towards former President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer for their work in guiding the Navajo Nation through the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
After 1,007 days of requiring masks on the Navajo Nation, the president noted that this is one of the last jurisdictions in the country to lift the mandate that was ordered by the Navajo Department of Health almost three years ago.
Because COVID-19 is not going anywhere and the virus remains in the human environment, President Nygren said it remains individuals’ responsibility to continue healthy habits they learned during the pandemic such as washing hands and being vaccinated.
“Be responsible,” he said. “Mask up if you’ve tested positive. Mask up and take a rapid test if you notice symptoms or suspect you’ve been exposed. We, as a Nation, are much more aware and much more prepared than in April 2020.”
Navajo Nation building occupancy restrictions related to COVID-19 were lifted on Nov. 14, 2022, through a public health order. Today’s order delivers a full reopening of the Navajo Nation.