Yakama Nation reinstates pandemic closures amidst COVID-19 surge

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YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. — The Yakama Nation is reverting back to Phase 2 of its COVID-19 Reopening Safety Plan amidst an increase of coronavirus transmission that has overwhelmed the county’s hospitals.

According to a release from the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation on September 10, the shift will take effect immediately. That means all residents of the Yakama Reservation, regardless of whether they are Native American or not, are being asked to reduce gathers with people outside of their household to a maximum of 10 individuals per week.

Travel outside of the Yakama Reservation is also being limited to essential travel only. Yakama Nation leadership is advising longhouses and churches to delay spiritual ceremonies besides funerals while in Phase 2.

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Residents within the Yakama Reservation are being asked to continue wearing masks, practicing social distance, and washing their hands frequently to prevent further community spread. The Yakama Nation is also advising residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Effective at 8 a.m. on Sept. 10, all Yakama Nation Governmental Offices are being closed to the public as they shift to an appointment-only structure. Those appointments will occur on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The partial closure will be in effect for 10 full business days until 5 p.m. on September 24, 2021.

Despite the closure, all Yakama Nation public health and safety workers will continue to work full-time at their stations for the duration of the closure.