The National Park Service announced August 16th that it is enforcing mask mandates immediately for all visitors and employees. This is due to the surge of COVID-19 cases that emerged from the highly contagious Delta variant. Plus, the pandemic forced many Americans to choose domestic vacations, and as a result, many popular United States National Parks have seen record numbers of visitors this year.
National Park Services Enforces Mask Mandates
Below are the reasons for the reinstated mask mandates for US National Parks:
Huge National Park Attendance in 2021
As the summer began, many Americans traveled in record numbers to the most popular national parks in the country. In Utah, Arches National Park was one of the major national parks that saw a significant influx of visitors that led to overcrowding. As a result, other national parks such as Yosemite National Park and Yosemite National Park have encouraged guests to visit the lesser known national parks to avoid this overcrowding.
As a result of this overcrowding, the National Parks are planning to implement a reservation system. The system can protect the parks from not only the further transmission of COVID-19, but protect the parks from the all the negative impacts the parks have faced due to over tourism.
The Delta Variant is Prevalent Even In Wilderness Areas
The Delta variant continues to wreak havoc in the United States due to the many Americans that remain unvaccinated. The spread has even made it into the remote areas of the country. Areas that were once thought safe from virus transmission have had increased infection rates. The rates increased significantly since the beginning of the summer travel season.
“Visitors to national parks are coming from locations across the country, if not across the world,” stated NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge, “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.” This new policy reinstates the mask mandate that was issued last February by the National Park Service.
New National Park Entry Requirements
The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) recommends social distancing measures of at least six feet from persons not in your household to prevent the spread of the virus. The outdoor activities at the national parks remain the safest choice for your visit. Many solitary activities such as solo hiking in uncrowded areas is another way to stay safe.
The new mask rules in effect specify that all visitors, employees, and contractors are required to wear masks indoors. This includes all National Park buildings. The rules apply regardless of vaccination status and also includes any crowded outdoor areas as well.
Get Vaccinated, Then Enjoy the Parks
The National Park Service is also recommending that park visitors receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Marla Said, an epidemiologist with the NPS Office of Public Health stated, “Being vaccinated is the most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of the coronavirus.” Said also mentioned that masking combined with the vaccine was the best way to prevent the spread of the new variants.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com