As COVID-19 Pandemic Continues, Governor Lewis Extends ‘Stay At Home’ Order, Delays In-Person School Classes
Communications & Public Affairs Office
Gila River Indian Community
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have far-reaching impacts on the Gila River Indian Community and the State of Arizona. To keep Community members, elders, children and GRIC employees as safe as possible, Governor Stephen Roe Lewis has signed three new Executive Orders that extend the Community’s “stay at home” order and that limit tribal employees’ return to work and the opening of the Community’s schools for the upcoming school year.
Governor Lewis signed the three orders on July 30, 2020. The orders include:
Third Amended Executive Order Number 6, which extends through September 6, 2020 the “stay at home” provisions originally implemented by the Governor on April 3, 2020. This order – the first return to sheltering in place anywhere in the state – requires Community members to remain at home to the greatest extent possible, unless they are involved in essential activities. These essential activities include seeking medical care or assisting others to get medical care; providing care for a family member, friend or animal in another household; obtaining food or necessary household supplies; engaging in outdoor activities like exercise while observing physical distancing; attending work for essential functions; or traveling to and from work.
The Gila River Police Department has been authorized to enforce this Executive Order under the Community’s “criminal nuisance” laws, which include a fine of up to $500. Non-tribal members may be cited under the “civil trespass” laws, which also includes a fine of up to $500.
Seventh Amended Executive Order Number Five, which extends the partial closure of tribal government offices until September 7, 2020. Certain employees may be directed to return to the Community workplace prior to this date as needed. Department directors are directed to develop and submit plans to immediately utilize teleworking or other alternative safe work arrangements for as many employees as practical, and to submit those plans to the Office of Community Manager. Once employees return to the workplace, appropriate protective masks shall be mandatory at all times in the workplace when in the proximity of other employees (less than 6 feet) until further notice.
Second Amended Executive Order Number Two, which mandates that all schools within the boundaries of the Gila River Indian Reservation provide education to their students only through virtual classes or distance learning, and not through in-person on-site classes, from the date that each school opens until at least October 5, 2020.
The Executive Order also directs each school within the boundaries of the Community to implement a plan for providing meals for students and other
school-aged children while practicing COVID-19 prevention measures. If the need for meals exceeds the school’s current capacity or available resources, the school may request additional funding from the Community Treasurer.
“While we have seen some indicators moving in the right direction on the pandemic, we continue to see positive tests and deaths occurring at high levels within the State of Arizona,” said Governor Lewis. “Knowing that, I have acted with an abundance of caution when it comes to reopening government offices, in-person instruction in the Community’s schools and keeping in place the Community’s ‘stay at home’ order. I know none of this is convenient, but we cannot afford to take lightly a pandemic that remains for many people a matter of life and death.”
In addition to these newly signed amended Executive Orders, the Governor’s previous Executive Orders continue to remain in effect. Important measures to remember include:
Executive Order Number 3, which reminds Community members and business that “price gouging” is unlawful on the Gila River Indian Reservation and those engaging in price gouging will be subject to revocation of business licenses or, in the case of non-members, exclusion.
Executive Order Number 8, which directs the mandatory use of face masks or coverings for all persons in the Community over the age of 2 years, and directs that Reservation-based employers provide appropriate PPE for employees and visitors.