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National Parks Service to now require visitors to wear masks

Virus Outbreak Dispatches From Yosemite
Posted at 3:42 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 16:43:50-05

The National Parks Service announced Tuesday that masks will now be required to be worn by visitors and employees to help stop the coronavirus spread.

In a press release, the parks service said the new mandate was in direct correlation with the executive order issued by President Joe Biden last month that requires masks be worn on federal property.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

The new policy requires masks to be worn in NPS buildings and facilities and on parklands when physical distancing can't be maintained, "including narrow or busy trails, overlooks, and historic homes," officials said in the announcement.

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

Parks throughout the system have had closures and adjustments because of the pandemic, so officials are urging guests to check park websites before visiting.

This comes as Yosemite National Park announced that beginning Feb. 8, all guests must make a reservation to drive into the California park.

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