National Park Service mandates masks in buildings, crowded public spaces

National Park Service mandates masks in buildings, crowded public spaces
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The National Park Service on Monday reinstated mask requirements, ordering visitors at national parks around the country to don face coverings when they are inside buildings or in crowded outdoor spaces.

According to the National Park Service, the requirement will apply to all park-goers, regardless of their vaccination status.

“Visitors to national parks are coming from locations across the country, if not across the world," National Park Service Deputy Director Shawn Benge said in a press release.  

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"Because of this, and recognizing that the majority of the United States is currently in substantial or high transmission categories, we are implementing a service-wide mask requirement to ensure our staff and visitors’ safety," Benge added.

Mask requirements will also apply to parks' public transportation systems and areas where social distancing is difficult, such as narrow paths.

“Being vaccinated is the most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of the coronavirus," said Capt. Maria Said, an epidemiologist in the National Park Service Office of Public Health. "Masking in addition to being vaccinated will help prevent the spread of new variants and protect those who are more at risk of severe disease. This simple act of kindness allows us to be safe while we continue to enjoy the benefits of our national parks."