In a February 2, 2021 memorandum entitled “Implementing and Enforcing Mask-Wearing Requirements for Park Visitors” and a May 19, 2021 memorandum entitled “Updating MaskWearing Requirements,” guidance was provided to superintendents on implementing and enforcing mask-wearing requirements for park visitors and employees using the authority in 36 C.F.R. § 1.5(a)(2).
Pursuant to Executive Order 13991 of January 20, 2021, “Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing,” federal agencies follow public health measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force to reduce the spread of COVID-19. On February 25, 2022, the CDC issued updated guidance for making decisions about COVID-19 prevention strategies related to COVID-19 Community Levels, which measure the impact of COVID-19 illness on community health and healthcare systems.
On February 28, 2022, based on this new CDC guidance, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued “Initial Implementation Guidance for Federal Agencies on COVID-19 Community Levels and Mask-Wearing,” which provides federal agencies with guidance they should follow in utilizing the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels to determine the appropriate maskwearing and screening testing requirements for each federal facility at a given time.
This memorandum provides updated direction to superintendents that reflects the most recent CDC, Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, and departmental guidance on mask wearing.
Park Compendia Updates
The CDC has provided county-level data showing the COVID-19 Community Level for each county in the United States. Parks must review and use this data to determine the COVID-19 Community Level for the park on a weekly basis and determine the mask-wearing requirements applicable for the upcoming week. Superintendents must notify the public of the mask-wearing requirements at the park for that week by posting signs in conspicuous locations in the park (e.g., normal points of entry into the park or into buildings owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by the NPS) and by posting information on park websites in accordance with 36 C.F.R. § 1.7.
As soon as practicable, superintendents must rescind existing compendium language with respect to mask wearing and substitute it with the following:
When the COVID-19 Community Level is LOW or MEDIUM in the county or all the counties where the park is located based on data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals are not required to wear masks.
When the COVID-19 Community Level is HIGH in the county or all the counties where the park is located based on data provided by the CDC, all individuals over the age of two must wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, in all common areas and shared workspaces in buildings owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by the National Park Service, including, but not limited to, park visitor centers, administrative offices, lodges, gift shops and restaurants.
When the COVID-19 Community Level is HIGH in one or more, but not all, of the counties where the park is located based on data provided by the CDC, the superintendent will determine whether individuals are required to wear masks. The requirement, if any, will apply to all facilities within the park. 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.
Regardless of the COVID-19 Community Level, individuals may wear masks if they choose to do so. Where a state, local, tribal, or territorial government where the park is located imposes more protective mask-wearing requirements than those indicated by the COVID-19 Community Level, individuals must follow those more protective requirements within the park. More protective state, local, tribal, or territorial mask-wearing requirements are hereby adopted as federal requirements in all units of the National Park System located within that state, locality, area subject to a federally recognized Indian tribe’s regulatory jurisdiction, or territory, regardless of a particular park’s jurisdictional status.
Additionally, all individuals must wear masks in or on public transportation conveyances and transportation hubs/facilities, to the extent required by current orders or directives issued by the CDC, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), or other federal agencies with jurisdiction over those conveyances or areas. As of March 4, 2022, CDC and TSA orders or directives require all individuals regardless of vaccination status to wear masks in indoor areas of all forms of public transportation conveyances, including busses, trains, and boats/ferries, and in the indoor premises of transportation hubs/facilities. Individuals are not required to wear masks while outdoors on conveyances or while outdoors on the premises of transportation hubs/facilities.
Superintendents may not enforce mask-wearing requirements in compendia unless they have provided public notice of the applicable requirements in accordance with 36 C.F.R. § 1.7.
Superintendents who believe that their unit has implementation challenges or unique operational circumstances that may require other or additional prevention measures than prescribed by the compendium language above may submit to their Regional Directors a written request to implement such other or additional measures. The written request should include a thorough description of the implementation challenges or unique operational circumstances, as well as recommended alternate measures. Requests will be evaluated in coordination with the Department and the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force as appropriate.
Concession Operators and Partners
The revised masking requirement described in this memorandum and in the revised compendium language applies to concessioners, commercial use authorization holders, lessees with publicfacing business operations, and other partners operating in units of the National Park System and serves as a required baseline for their operations. Any of those entities may, however, make an independent business decision to institute a masking requirement for its customers or employees that is more stringent than the federal requirement.
Communications and Signs
Additionally, communications guidance, including updated signs from Harpers Ferry Center, is available in the Coronavirus Response area of InsideNPS.