Are Masks Mandatory at National Parks, Again?
It seems like mask requirements just lifted at national parks yesterday… but they’re now being required, again?
With all this back and forth between CDC and Federal guidelines and recommendations, it feels like we’re getting whiplash. So do we or don’t we?
We dug into the latest info on national park mask requirements, and here’s what we know.
Mask Requirements Lifted; Then Reinstated?
Earlier this summer, following previous CDC guidance, mask requirements at national parks were lifted for vaccinated visitors and employees.
The National Park Service stated that anyone 2 weeks past their second vaccination would no longer be required to wear masks indoors or outdoors. However, the NPS still urged unvaccinated people to wear masks, even in outdoor spaces.
But, with new CDC mask-wearing guidance, it looks like the requirement is in effect at national park units across the country once again.
Mask Mandates at National Parks
Mask requirements vary from park to park, with more parks updating their mask requirements daily.
According to the NPS website, unvaccinated visitors must wear masks indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces. All visitors, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, have to wear masks on enclosed public transport.
With mask requirements changing daily, please check individual park websites for rules, requirements, and operating status prior to visiting.
Do You Have to Wear Masks Outside?
Unvaccinated guests are urged to wear masks outside in crowded outdoor spaces. And, at some national park units, all guests are urged to wear masks in crowded outdoor spaces regardless of vaccination status.
All national park visitors must wear masks on enclosed forms of public transportation, like shuttle buses.
What Happens if You Don’t Comply With National Park Mask Requirements?
Not everyone can wear a mask. Some individuals have underlying health conditions and can’t wear masks, so what happens if you don’t wear a mask at a national park?
If you can’t (or won’t) wear a mask at a national park, you may not be allowed to enter buildings or ride public transport. In addition, not wearing masks at a national park could subject you to fines.
In January of 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring mandatory masks and physical distancing on all federal land and property. National parks are federal land, so this mandate applies directly to the park properties.
The executive order states that “all persons in Federal buildings or on Federal lands” must comply with CDC mask guidelines.
Individual national parks have their own guidance about mask wearing in different areas. Generally, you should wear masks in all buildings and on all forms of enclosed public park transportation.
It’s Not Just Mask Requirements
It’s not just mask requirements: some parks are still not operating at full capacity. Many indoor sites, visitors centers, and some entire park units remain closed completely.
Coronavirus has had a substantial impact on the entire country, national parks included. Last summer, many national parks implemented a reservation and ticketing system to stagger park visitors throughout the day to help aid with physical distancing.
And, in summer 2021, more parks implemented a reservation and ticketing system to visit. Some systems are applicable to certain times of day, and some are for the entire park.
Visiting National Parks Safely
Stay up-to-date with the latest CDC guidelines and recommendations on social distancing, mask requirements, and the latest COVID-19 facts.
Keep up with mask wearing, physical distancing, and frequent hand-washing to help prevent the spread of the virus and new, more contagious strains.
Be sure to check the NPS website prior to visiting any National Park Units.
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