National parks require masks

The Sun-Gazette

National Park Service announces mask requirement in support of President Biden’s executive order requiring face coverings on all federal property

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK – The next time you walk through a campsite to take in the crisp clean air in Sequoia National Park, you may have to wear a mask.

On Feb. 2, the National Park Service announced it will require “those who live, work and visit our national parks and facilities” to wear a mask in support of President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring anyone on federal property to wear a mask. The National Park Service employs more than 20,000 people and welcomes about 330 million visitors per year. Locally, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks maintains a year-round staff of about 80 people and sees about 1.5 million visitors.

“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 Capt. Sara Newman. “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.”

Face masks are now required in all NPS buildings and facilities at all of the country’s 423 national parks. Masks are also required on NPS-managed lands when physical distancing cannot be maintained, including narrow or busy trails, overlooks and historic homes. Additional public health measures are in place across the service, from capacity limits to one-way trails, or even temporary closures in response to local conditions.

“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. “We will continue to evaluate operations and make appropriate modifications to visitor services as needed.”

Visitors should check individual park websites and social media channels for details on operations before they visit. Park rangers are on duty to provide information, protect visitors and park resources, and uphold this requirement. Other tips to recreate responsibly are available on nps.gov. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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