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Visitors to national parks who find it upsetting when encountering unmasked strangers on single-track trails now have President Joe Biden on their side.
The National Park Service announced on Tuesday that masks will be required for employees, visitors, partners and contractors in response to a presidential executive order mandating masks on federal property.
Masks will be required at national parks in buildings and outdoors “when physical distancing cannot be maintained, including narrow or busy trails, overlooks and historic homes,” according to a park service news release. “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.”
There was no immediate response from Rocky Mountain National Park officials on how they plan to implement the new policy.
“Working with public health officials and following the latest science and guidance, we can make national parks safer for employees, visitors and partners,” said park service deputy director Shawn Benge. “We will continue to evaluate operations and make appropriate modifications to visitor services as needed.”
The park service policy came in response to Biden’s executive order “on protecting the federal workforce and requiring mask-wearing,” issued on the day of his inauguration. The park service news release said nothing about how the mandate will be enforced.
“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 Sara Newman, public health director for the park service. “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.”