SPRINGDALE, Utah (ABC4) – Outdoor enthusiasts are beginning to debate the new federal mask mandate in effect at all U.S. national parks.
“It’s in the best interest of everybody,” Samuel Lariviere, a visitor at Zion National Park from Bend, Oregon, told ABC4. “Something that we don’t want to see restricted is our beautiful areas open to the public. It’s what this was all founded on.”
In support of President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring masks on federal property, the National Park Service implemented a mask requirement for employees, visitors, partners and contractors. Face masks are now required in all NPS buildings and facilities and on narrow or busy trails, overlooks, or public spaces such as shuttle lines.
Daniel Fagergren, Chief Ranger at Zion National Park, said Monday he has instructed his staff to exercise extreme patience while enforcing the mask mandate while focusing on public education. He said the park plans to handle the level of enforcement on a case-by-case basis.
“This might just be a conversation, pulling a visitor aside, or visiting them later,” Fagergren said. “Or, if they really insist on pushing the issue, it could be a citation. We’re not trying to make this more difficult than it needs to be. I think most people are willing to comply with that and respect other people’s health.”
Fagergren says keeping the entire community safe remains the park’s top priority as they rely on the best data and science available at this time. Zion National Park officials have not issued any citations yet.
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.