Calls for the U.S. Interior Department to close Grand Canyon National Park amid the COVID-19 outbreak are increasing from some members of Congress.
Arizona Democrats Tom O’Halleran and Raul Grijalva were among 10 representatives who sent a letter Tuesday to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt urging him to bar visitors to the park to protect staff, tourists and the area’s approximately 2,500 residents.
“We write with serious concerns regarding your decision to keep national parks and other public lands open during the coronavirus pandemic and ask that you take whatever additional actions may be needed to protect public health and slow the spread of the virus,” they wrote.
New Mexico Democrat Deb Haaland also signed the letter.
According to the members of Congress, unsafe crowd sizes have been observed recently at Grand Canyon and other parks that remain open. Grand Canyon officials have closed almost all visitor services not related to public safety along with several popular hiking trails in the backcountry. They’ve also stopped collecting fees at entrance stations.
The Hualapai and Navajo nations along with the Coconino County Board of Supervisors have also called for Grand Canyon’s closure.