Story at a glance

  • The U.S. National Park Service announced mandatory face masks while visiting or working in national parks.
  • Some NPS services have been restricted as a result of COVID-19.

The National Park Service (NPS) announced Tuesday that it will require all employees, visitors, partners and contractors to wear masks across all parks and federal buildings.

This new mandate follows President Biden’s recent executive order that requires federal employees and contractors to wear masks while on the job.

“Wearing a mask around others, physical distancing, and washing your hands are the simplest and most effective public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said NPS Office of Public Health Director Captain Sara Newman. “Getting outside and enjoying our public lands is essential to improving mental and physical health, but we all need to work together to recreate responsibly.”

Face coverings will now be required in all NPS facilities and properties. It also extends to outdoor activity when the recommended 6 feet of physical distance cannot be maintained. 

Other changes made to NPS properties include the temporary closure of certain trains in response to “local conditions.”

“Working with public health officials and following the latest science and guidance, we can make national parks safer for employees, visitors and partners,” NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge added. “We will continue to evaluate operations and make appropriate modifications to visitor services as needed.”

National parks have fluctuated between being open and closed to the public throughout the pandemic. Operations at popular spots like Yosemite in California and The Grand Canyon in Arizona have been augmented to keep visitors safe while not having to shut down completely. In
Yosemite, shuttles are not operating and require various types of reservations.

Published on Feb 02, 2021