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National Park Service Mandates Masks For All Visitors And Employees

AP Photo/Matt York, file

The National Park Service this week began requiring facemasks in all national parks. It comes as the delta variant drives a summer surge in COVID-19 infections nationwide. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

NPS officials say employees, visitors and contractors must wear masks in all buildings, public transportation and other indoor spaces. The mandate also applies to crowded outdoor settings where physical distancing can’t be guaranteed like narrow or busy trails and overlooks. The mandate took effect immediately and applies to all people regardless of vaccination status and all parks no matter the local COVID transmission level.

According to NPS, requiring masks will increase safety within parks, and that visitors are coming from across the country and world as much of the U.S. experiences high or substantial spread. The mask mandate will remain in effect indefinitely.

At the Grand Canyon, the South Rim visitor center remains closed to the public along with park headquarters and some restaurants as well as other visitor amenities including South Rim bus tours.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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