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National Park Service Announces Mask Mandate

National parks will require masks in visitor centers, busy trails, and overlooks, agency says.

The National Park Service will require people to wear masks in park buildings as well as in popular outdoor areas, according to a new policy the agency put in place on Tuesday.

In a press release, the National Park Service said that the new rules mandate that visitors, employees, and contractors wear masks in all park facilities and other areas where physical distancing isn’t possible, “including narrow or busy trails, overlooks and historic homes.” The new policy is designed to bring the agency in line with a day-one executive order from President Joe Biden which directed that “on-duty or on-site federal employees, on-site federal contractors, and other individuals in federal buildings and on federal lands should all wear masks.”

“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,” NPS Office of Public Health Director Captain Sara Newman said in the press release. “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.”

In the past week, several of the United States’ most popular national parks have announced new measures aimed at curbing Covid transmission. Zion National Park announced that it would begin requiring riders on its shuttle bus to purchase $1 tickets, while Yosemite reopened day-use reservations after pausing them in November.