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Navajo Nation rescinds mask mandate on vast reservation

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has rescinded a mask mandate that’s been in effect since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, officials announced Friday, fulfilling a pledge that new tribal President Buu Nygren made while campaigning for the office.

The mandate was one of the longest-standing anywhere in the U.S. and applied broadly to businesses, government offices and tourist destinations on the vast reservation, which extends into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.

Nygren and Navajo Nation Council Delegate Otto Tso, who is temporarily overseeing the tribe’s legislative branch, announced the change in the evening. Both were sworn in to their respective positions earlier this month.

“It’s time for the Navajo people to get back to work,” Nygren said in a statement. “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.”

Masks will still be required in schools, nursing homes and health care facilities, according to the latest public health order.