The National Park Service received updated masking requirements on August 16. Currently, in Hancock County, the transmission rate has been sustained at a substantial level. In response, Acadia National Park has required all staff and visitors to wear masks in buildings owned and operated by the federal government and have reduced building occupancies.
The latest guidance directs us to maintain masking of all persons “in common (public) areas and shared workspaces in federal buildings…. regardless of vaccination status or community transmission levels in that county.” For example, if the superintendent has designated a trail as a location where physical distancing cannot reasonably be maintained, then a mask must be worn when traveling with or passing others on the trail.
The memorandum also requires masks to be worn “in shared government vehicles and on federal property in outdoor areas, when others are present, where the superintendent has determined that physical distancing cannot reasonably be maintained, regardless of vaccination status or community transmission levels in that county.”
The Superintendent’s Compendium lists the following outdoor locations/activities where masking is required:
- Campground amphitheaters
- Ranger led programs
- Island Explorer Bus Stops
- Duck Harbor Dock
- Plaza surrounding the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Sieur de Mont Nature Center, all gift shops and Wildwood Stables
While this direction is based on community transmission levels, it does not take into account the reality that most visitors to National Park Service sites come from locations across the country, if not across the world. In addition, guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force notes that in determining a relevant area for purposes of masking requirements, agencies should consider, among other factors, transmission levels in areas from which visitors travel. Recognizing that the majority of the United States is currently in substantial or high transmission categories, we should consider that the majority of visitors have the potential to come from areas of substantial or high community transmission.
These updated requirements for mask wearing apply to all visitors, federal employees, volunteers, partners, and contractors in federal buildings and on federal lands administered by the NPS. If a visitor, employee, contractor, volunteer, or other partner is unable to wear a mask properly or cannot tolerate a mask, the National Park Service will consider adaptations and alternatives on a case by case basis. In accordance with applicable law, the US Department of Interior will provide reasonable accommodations for qualifying individuals.
According to the Secretary of Interior Haaland, one of the best ways to beat this pandemic is to get vaccinated. Fully vaccinated people are at substantially reduced risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 compared with people who are not fully vaccinated. You can visit Vaccines.gov to find vaccine distribution locations and schedule your appointment.
August 16, 2021 National Park Service press release on the mask mandate.
Acadia’s guidance on Coronavirus and closures can be found here.