The National Park Service (NPS) has issued a new mask mandate that will apply to all visitors, employees, and contractors. Effective immediately, masks will be required inside buildings and in outdoor areas where it’s difficult to physically distance from others.
The service said everyone is required to follow the rule, regardless of vaccination status or community transmission levels. Officials say the new mandate is based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and will stay in effect until further notice.
"Visitors to national parks are coming from locations across the country, if not across the world. 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," NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge said in a news release.
The NPS added that being vaccinated is the “most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of the coronavirus” and that wearing a mask provides an even greater level of protection.
“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," said Capt. Maria Said, an epidemiologist in the park service's Office of Public Health and a member of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.