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National Park Service renews mask mandate for everyone amid surge in COVID cases

Virus Outbreak National Parks
Posted at 3:26 PM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-16 17:26:21-04

The National Park Service (NPS) said that beginning immediately, visitors, employees, and contractors must wear a mask while inside all buildings and in crowded outdoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status or community transmission levels.

The announcement comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an update on its website about mask guidance.

"Visitors to national parks are coming from locations across the country, if not across the world," said NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge in a press release. "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' updated mask requirement will be in effect until further notice, the agency said.

The new requirement also applies to all NPS buildings, public transportation systems, outdoor spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained, such as narrow or busy trails and overlooks.

“Being vaccinated is the most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of the coronavirus," said Capt. Maria Said, MD, an epidemiologist in the NPS Office of Public Health and a member of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. "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."

The CDC said if you are fully vaccinated, they recommend that people wear a mask indoors in public if they are "in an area of substantial or high transmission."

If you are unvaccinated, they also recommend that you wear a mask in indoor public places.