We appreciate that partners and park managers continue to work cooperatively to respond to the coronavirus pandemic to ensure guest, customer, and employee safety and health and to provide clear and accurate communications to our visitors and customers.
This space provides information and updates about public health matters that are of importance to our partner community including commercial visitor service providers such as concessioners, commercial use authorization holders, and leaseholders as well as partners such as cooperating associations, friends groups and authorized philanthropic partners, education partners, volunteer groups, and others.
Aligning Our Invitation to the Public
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the NPS has been engaged in messaging around safe and responsible visitation. The #RecreateResponsibly campaign supports the global effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and shares more familiar messages such as Leave No Trace. In parks as well as in the digital space, staff and partners have posted signs and shared informational graphics as public health reminders. Operational/on-site partners can work with partner parks to access and print these signs, materials, and graphics. Additional information is on the Recreate Responsibly page on NPS.gov, including tips for planning a park visit. Please share these messages with your customers and audiences.
Find Your “Virtual” Park
As many of us find ourselves “parked” at home, we’re encouraging our visitors to find us in the digital space, to Find Your “Virtual” Park. From webcams to kids activities, live tours, and more, partners are encouraged to invite our visitors to visit us virtually. Partners can work with their partner parks to offer their own virtual experiences and additional activities.
What Partners Can Do During the NPS Response
We ask for your assistance in several ways:
Information Being Provided to Your Customers
Our Washington Office of Communications, in coordination with the Department of the Interior Communications Office, works closely with regional and park public information officers to respond to media and public inquires. We request that you work with your NPS park contacts as you normally would to review information you are communicating with your customers. They will quickly respond to your requests.
- Cooperating association staff, as well as NPS employees, volunteers, and other partners—often engage in meaningful, positive conversations and dialogue with visitors throughout our parks. Occasionally, however, a situation that requires practiced skills in de-escalation may arise. Conflict de-escalation strategies can make all the difference in these circumstances. (Registration is available through your park partner.)
- Discussion Guides also provide techniques and insights for keeping lines of communication open with visitors and invite mutual learning. (Registration is available through your park partner.)
Safety and Health Practices
Partners should utilize the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and practice the preventive measures discussed in their guidance. Face masks are required in park areas where six feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained and in all NPS-administered buildings and facilities, including those operated by partners. The NPS has issued the following guidance relevant to partners. This guidance will continue to expand and will be updated as appropriate.
- Mask-Wearing for NPS Commercial Visitor Service Providers and Partners (March 2, 2021)
- Minimizing Risk of COVID-19 Exposure in Shared Housing (March 10, 2021)
- COVID-19 Management Practices for Transportation System Operations (March 10, 2021)
- COVID-19 Risk Assessment Tool (updated April 19, 2021) and Supplement to the NPS Risk Assessment Tool_4.19.21
- Multi-day Road-based Tour COVID-19 Guidance (March 24, 2021)
- Guidance for COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation (April 6, 2021)
- Action Steps for COVID-19 Reporting for NPS Commercial Services Providers, Contractors, and Partners (April 8, 2021)
- NPS Building Occupant Self-Screening Guidance (April 15, 2021)
If you have employees, guests, or customers who report a possible exposure, suspect or confirmed case of illness from the COVID-19 virus, please immediately contact the park so that they can work with you to coordinate with public health authorities.
Changes in Your Operations
As always, when you make changes in your operations—whether reducing, closing, or resuming your operations—please work with your park manager, or appropriate regional offices if your operations cover multiple regions, before taking that action. They will help work through any considerations, logistics, notifications, and communications.
Where to Find Other Information
Coronavirus Relief Options
Many partner associations—for example, the Public Lands Alliance, the Outdoor Industry Association, the River Network, and the Partnership for the National Trails System to name just a few—as well as industry publications have pulled together resources for more targeted communities. Members of the National Park Service Friends Alliance may have additional ideas.
Administrative Relief to Financial Assistance Recipients
The Office of Management and Budget published M-20-17 to enable agencies to provide administrative relief to financial assistance recipients affected by the loss of operational capacity and increased costs due to the COVID-19 crisis. If you have a grant or cooperative agreement and you need to discuss projects that will need to be extended, postponed, or cancelled, please get in touch with your Federal Financial Assistance Awarding Officer for further information and guidance.
Partner organizations that manage volunteers should be in touch with the local NPS VIP coordinator or park manager for updates or with questions. If your work is done under a grant or cooperative agreement and you have additional questions, please contact your Federal Assistance Awarding Officer.
As always, the partnership teams across the National Park Service are ready to assist. Please let us know how we can help you navigate the many changes happening around us.
Last updated: April 20, 2021