SPRINGDALE (ABC4 News) — In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, Zion National Park will be closed immediately.

Gov. Gary Herbert made the announcement during the state’s daily COVID-19 update Friday afternoon. He said those currently in the park will be notified so they can vacate the premises.

“I’m grateful to the Department of the Interior for recognizing the need to close Zion National Park as quickly as possible,” Governor of Utah Gary Herbert said. “Even with stay home orders and directives in place across the nation, Zion still continues to receive a high number of visitors each day, which greatly increases the risk of infection to communities near the park. We look forward to the day that this pandemic draws to a close and we can once again welcome the world to Utah’s public lands.”

RELATED: Social distancing ‘just not possible’: Advocates urge Zion National Park to close

The state’s decision comes as city officials throughout Southern Utah, including the mayors of St. George, Springdale, and Rockville, came together to draft or send letters to Zion’s superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh, along with the U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt., the National Park Service (NPS), Gov. Herbert, and state and local public health departments, urging the full closure of the park.

St. George Mayor Jon Pike told ABC4 News that he spoke with Bradybaugh on Tuesday, who admitted to him that he wished Zion National Park would close and his staff members are concerned with contracting the virus.

“He told me, ‘I wish we would close. I think that would be best for our employees and our community members,'” Pike said. “At that point, I really felt it was time to get serious about this, and after a unanimous decision from our city council Thursday night, we sent a letter out.”

RELATED: Mayor of Springdale drafts letter to Zion National Park officials urging closure of park

Gov. Herbert said his office worked with Washington County officials along with federal officials with the Department of the Interior to come to this decision.

Zion National Park officials announced that NPS received a letter Friday from the Executive Director for the Utah Department of Health recommending the full closure of Zion National Park.

Upon receiving this request from the state health department, Bradybaugh, with the support of Bernhardt and the NPS Deputy Director, Operations, David Vela, made the decision to immediately close the park until further notice.

“We appreciate the collaboration with state and local agencies and their expertise in steps to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19,” said Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh. “Zion has been carefully assessing our ability to provide a safe environment amid this crisis and in making progressive changes to operations as needed. However, visitors are continuing to come to the park from all across the country at numbers difficult to maintain social distancing.”

State Route 9 (Zion-Mount Carmel Highway and Tunnel) and Kolob Terrace Road, the two roads through Zion National Park will remain open for the safety and needs of local residents only. Stopping at pull offs will be prohibited.

The NPS encourages people to take advantage of the many digital tools already available to explore Zion National Park, including its information video, social media sites, and our virtual classroom opportunities.

Zion National Park officials said they will notify the public when they resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.