National parks mask mandate: RMNP requiring masks on busy trails

Visitors to national parks — including Rocky Mountain National Park — are now required to wear masks in all buildings, shuttles and crowded outdoor spaces, including busy trails, whether they have been vaccinated or not.

A news release from the National Park Service said the requirement is being instituted due to “the latest science and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” and will be in effect until further notice.

“Visitors to national parks are coming from locations across the country, if not across the world,” NPS deputy director Shawn Benge said in the 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.”

The requirement for mask wearing outdoors applies in places “where physical distancing cannot be maintained, such as narrow or busy trails and overlooks.”

A mask mandate for national parks was imposed after President Joe Biden issued an executive order on his first day in office that required masks in all public buildings and public lands. It was relaxed in May as vaccination rates rose, but the current surge in COVID-19 cases prompted the park service to reimpose it.

“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,” said Capt. Maria Said, an epidemiologist in the NPS Office of Public Health, in the release. “This simple act of kindness allows us to be safe while we continue to enjoy the benefits of our national parks.”

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