Some major Navajo Nation sites have reopened this week, granting visitors access to some of the most culturally significant parks and monuments in the US again, including Canyon de Chelly, Hubbell Trading Post, Navajo National Monument and Four Corners Monument.
The Navajo Nation—the country’s largest Native American reservation that stretches across parts of New Mexico, Utah, Arizona—is gradually reopening some sites after months of closures triggered by the pandemic. It has now entered the “orange” phase of its reopening plan, which means parks, attractions, restaurants, museums, casinos, campgrounds, RV parks and hotels can operate at 50% capacity. Curfews have been dropped, but the mask mandate on the Navajo Nation remains in effect for now; that means everyone over the age of two, regardless of vaccination status, is required to wear a mask in public areas.
A mask mandate is in place across the Navajo Nation © Getty Images
“We’ve been in this pandemic for over a year now and we should all know how to protect ourselves,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement. “The difference between this time last year and the uprise in cases we are seeing now, is that we have a high percentage of our people vaccinated and our public health experts have provided us with the guidance to reduce the spread of the virus.”
In recent weeks, there has been an increase in infections of the Delta variant, but vaccine uptake remains strong in Navajo Nation, with more than 70% of the eligible population vaccinated, according to the LA Times.
The Hubbell Trading Post is welcoming visitors again © Nik Wheeler/Getty Images
If you plan to visit some of the newly-reopened attractions, remember to pack a mask and check the latest public health and park guidelines before visiting. Not all services are operating, and there are limited in-person programs and ranger-led activities across many parks and sites under the 50% capacity limits.
While President Nez confirmed that the recent spike in COVID-19 cases is ” largely due to social and family gatherings where people don’t wear masks and don’t take precautions,” the Navajo Nation government can shut down tours and attractions at any moment if they believe a spike is directly related to tourism.
For more information on Navajo Parks and Recreation sites, see here.
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