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The National Park Service announced Monday that all visitors, employees and contractors in its 423 parks must wear a mask in indoor spaces and crowded outdoor spaces, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

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“Visitors to national parks are coming from locations across the country, if not across the world. 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,” NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge stated in a news release.

The policy renews a mask mandate issued by the NPS in February, CNN reported.

According to KDVR, the mandate applies to transportation systems within all national parks, while narrow or busy trails and overlooks fall into the category of outdoor spaces where masks are now required because social distancing cannot be maintained.

Capt. Maria Said, an epidemiologist in the NPS Office of Public Health and a member of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, called vaccination the “most effective way” to minimize exposure to the coronavirus, regardless of vaccination status.

“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. This simple act of kindness allows us to be safe while we continue to enjoy the benefits of our national parks,” Said stated in the news release.

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