Record of Determination for the Implementation of Mask-Wearing Requirements for Park Visitors

Pursuant to 36 CFR § 1.5(a)(2), in accordance with Executive Order 13991, Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing (E.O. 13991), National Mall and Memorial Parks is implementing a temporary restriction on activities within park areas for the maintenance of public health and safety. This restriction is effective as of midnight, February 9, 2021 and will be in place until modified, rescinded, or superseded.

As stated in E.O. 13991, it is the policy of the Administration to halt the spread of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID–19) by relying on the best available data and science-based public health measures. Such measures include wearing masks when around others, physical distancing, and other related precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On January 24, 2021, the Office of Management and Budget issued M-21-15, COVID-19 Safe Federal Workplace: Agency Model Safety Principles to provide guidance to federal agencies on implementing E.O. 13991. M-21-15 contains model safety principles that apply CDC guidelines related to mask-wearing and physical distancing to the federal workplace and are designed to be used by federal agencies as a starting point for updating their COVID-19 workplace safety plans.

On January 29, 2021, the Acting Secretary of the Interior issued a memorandum entitled Protecting Our Workforce by Requiring Mask-Wearing. This memorandum reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment to an urgent, robust, and professional response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Memorandum requires all onsite employees, contractors, and volunteers to wear a mask or face covering at all times while in Department buildings or on federal public lands when physical distancing of 6 feet or more is not possible.

Individuals over the age of two years must wear masks, except when actively eating or drinking, in the following locations:

1. All common areas and shared workspaces in buildings (to include memorials) owned, rented or leased by the National Park Service, including, but not limited to, park visitor centers, administrative offices, maintenance yards, exhibit areas, lodges, gift shops, and restaurants.

2. The following outdoor areas, when others are present and when it has been determined that physical distancing (staying at least six feet apart) cannot reasonably be maintained:

Memorials and open-air sites (the most visited locations listed below):
  • Washington Monument Plaza:  The Plaza is the area inside the circle of flagpoles and leading up to the visitor security screening building.
  • Jefferson Memorial Chamber, Steps, and Plaza:  The Chamber is at the top of the grand stairs, inside the tall columns.  The grand stairs are the marble staircase that leads from the Plaza to the Chamber level.  The Plaza is on the north side (Tidal Basin) of the memorial.   
  • Lincoln Memorial Chamber, Steps, Approachway, and Plaza:  The Chamber is at the top of the grand stairs, inside the tall columns.  The grand stairs are the marble and granite staircases that leads from the Approachway to the Chamber level.  The Approachway is the cobble stone entrance from the plaza area to the entrance steps.  The Plaza is inside the vehicle barrier system (bollards) on the east side of the memorial.
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial Walkway:  The Wall walkway is the area immediately adjacent to the east and west walls of the memorial.
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial Walkways and Circle of Remembrance:  The Field of Soldiers walkway are the walks from Daniel French Drive, along the United Nations wall and along the Image wall.  The Circle of Remembrance is at the apex of the walkways containing the fountain and linden tree grove.
  • World War II Memorial Plaza and Fountains: The Plaza and Fountain area is defined as the area inside the 56 state/territory columns.
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial: The Ceremonial Loop is between West Basin Drive and the entrance building (bookstore/restrooms).  The four Outdoor Rooms are past the bookstore/restrooms containing water features, stonework, and artwork.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial: The Plaza, Mountain of Despair and Stone of Hope are contained in the area surrounded by West Basin Drive, Independence Avenue and the Tidal Basin.
  • DC War Memorial Chamber and walks: The Chamber is located inside the memorial's columns with adjacent walkways leading to the memorial.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial:  The Center Plaza Sculpture area is defined by a strip of gray granite slabs and the tapestry.
  • Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool: Walkways and turf areas between the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Constitution Gardens: Turf and paved areas bounded by Constitution Avenue to the north, 17th Street to the east, VVM to the west and the Lincoln Reflecting Poll to the south.
This guidance is applicable to smaller memorials such American Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, the Navy Memorial, the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II, John Marshall Park, and other memorials within the National Mall and Memorial Parks.

Common outdoor gathering areas, bathrooms, playgrounds, lawn, parking lots and other areas adjacent to the following locations to include:
  • All paved and turf areas of the Mall bounded by 3rd Street to the east, Madison Drive to the north, 14th Street to the west, and Jefferson Drive to the south.
  • Tidal Basin walkways
  • Parking Lots A, B, and C in East Potomac Park
  • Parking Bays 1-24 along Ohio Drive in East Potomac Park (Hains Point)
  • Hains Point Playground
  • Picnic areas in East Potomac Park
Visitors to the reservations, circles, and squares north of Constitution Avenue (also known as Uptown Parks) must also wear masks when others are present and it has been determined that physical distancing (staying at least six feet apart) cannot reasonably be maintained.

Masks must cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face. Masks not designed to be protective, masks with ventilation valves, and face shields do not meet the requirement, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that identify masks as a critical step to prevent contracting and spreading COVID-19.

The temporary restriction is not of a nature, magnitude or duration that will result in a “significant alteration in the public use pattern.” The closure will not adversely affect the park’s natural aesthetic or cultural values, nor require significant modification to the resource management objection, nor is it of a highly controversial nature.

Accordingly, the National Park Service determines publication as rulemaking in the Federal Register is unwarranted under 36 CFR § 1.5(c). This determination is consistent with hundreds of earlier partial or temporary closures, the legal opinion of the Office of the Solicitor, and judicial adjudications that have upheld other NPS closures and public use limitations. Spiegel v. Babbitt, 855 F. Supp. 402 (D.D.C. 1994) affd in part w/o op. 56 F. 3d 1531 (D.C. Cir. 1995), reported in full, 1995 US App. Lexis 15200 (D.C. Cir. May 31, 1995); ANSWER Coalition v. Norton, No. 05-0071, (D.D.C. January 18, 2005), Mahoney v. Norton, No. 02-1715 (D.D.C. August 22, 2002), plaintiff’s emergency motion for appeal for injunction pending appealed denied Mahoney v. Norton, No. 02-5275 (D.C. Cir. September 9, 2002) (per curium); Picciotto v. United States, No. 99-2113 (D.D.C. August 6, 1999); Picciotto v. Lujan, No. 90-1261 (D.D.C. May 30, 1990) Picciotto v. Hodel, No. 87-3290 (D.D.C. December 7, 1987).

Pursuant to 36 CFR § 1.5(c), 1.7, notice of this temporary and partial closure will be made through roadway gates and the posting of signs at conspicuous locations in the affected park area. Finally, pursuant to 36 CFR § 1.5(c), this determination is available to the public upon request.

Jeffrey P. Reinbold
Superintendent, National Mall and Memorial Parks

February 10, 2021

Last updated: February 10, 2021

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