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Masks now required at US national parks

Glacier National Park
Posted at 11:13 AM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 13:13:47-05

Face masks are now required in US national parks when visitors can't maintain physical distance and in all National Park Service buildings to help protect against the spread of coronavirus.

The National Park Service mask requirement for all employees and visitors was announced by the Department of Interior in a news release Tuesday afternoon.

"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," said NPS Office of Public Health Director Captain Sara Newman, in the release.

The new policy requires mask wearing in NPS buildings and facilities and on park lands when social distancing can't be maintained, "including narrow or busy trails, overlooks and historic homes," the announcement said.

"Park rangers are on duty to uphold normal rules and regulations as well as this requirement and may issue citations as appropriate for anyone in violation," an NPS spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Tuesday evening.

The National Park System manages 423 parks covering more than 85 million acres, including national battlefields, memorials and monuments as well as the 63 headliner National Parks that include Grand Canyon National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Parks throughout the system have had closures and adjustments because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NPS urges visitors to check park websites for operational changes before visiting.

Yosemite National Park, for example, will begin requiring reservations to drive into the California park starting on February 8. That means visitors hoping to spot the late February sunset phenomenon at Horsetail Fall known as Firefall will have to book early.

NPS has also posted tips online for responsible recreation.

The mask announcement comes after President Joe Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office requiring masks on federal property.

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