For a brief period, it seemed like Covid-19 was almost over. Most of the countries around the world have scrapped travel restrictions, while wearing a facemask is no longer mandatory, except for hospitals and other health establishments. Despite the success of the vaccines in reducing both the number of infections and the seriousness of the disease, the virus is on a new spreading cycle. Another wave of infections in the United States has led to many national parks reintroducing facemask requirements.
The guidelines are different for each park, depending on the region they are in and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations. The CDC proposes a specific set of measures depending on the number of infections in each area. In high-risk zones, wearing a mask is required in all indoor public spaces, while in medium and low zones, masks are only optional.
For national parks, the staff can also require guests to wear masks, even if the CDC’s recommendation is only optional. According to the National Park Service (NPS), six parks have reintroduced mask mandates.
1. Sequoia and Kings Canyon, California
Wearing a mask is currently required inside all park buildings. In areas the CDC identifies as high Covid-19 community level, masks are required for everyone in all NPS buildings regardless of vaccination status.
2. Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado
Visitors, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask inside all park buildings. Furthermore, masks are advised for Beaver Meadows VC, Moraine Park Discovery Centre, Fall River VC, Alpine VC, on the Hiker Shuttle and on in-park shuttle buses.
3. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Due to current, high Covid-19 community level in Teton County, Department of Interior policy requires that masks are required for everyone in all park buildings in Grand Teton National Park, regardless of vaccination status. Park buildings include, but are not limited to visitor centres, administrative offices, lodges, gift shops and restaurants in the Grand Teton.
4. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
As Coconino County has transitioned back into high Community Level, the Grand Canyon National Park is required to implement masking for all individuals over the age of two, regardless of vaccination status, in all park buildings and in public transportation. Moreover, park leadership has decided that once the park enters the high Community Level, it will not remove the masking restrictions until they have had two consecutive weeks of medium level.
5. Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska
Denali National Park and Preserve will require all individuals over the age of two, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks in all common areas, while inside any federal building within the park, including, but not limited to, park visitor centres, administrative offices, lodges, gift shops and restaurants, or while riding park buses and shuttles, except in the Walter Harper Ranger Station in Talkeetna.
6. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho
Masks are required for everyone indoors and on all forms of public and commercial transportation, regardless of vaccination status. Indoor areas include, but are not limited to, park visitor centres, administrative offices, lodges, gift shops and restaurants.