Like much of the United States, the National Parks are starting to implement changes due to the Coronavirus outbreak. While no park has completely shutdown, available services and facilities are dwindling. Still, travelers are visiting the parks and the small towns that usually surround them presenting questions about safety.
National Parks Shutting Down
Acadia National Park is asking guests to email or call if they need park information. Their visitor and welcome center are closed as have Death Valley, Everglades and Grand Canyon National Parks. The Channel Island National Parks have just about shutdown altogether. Tour boat companies in the area have suspended service to the islands, although technically visitors can still travel by private vessel.
You can find more information on the National Park closures at their website for now, but if one park service retiree group gets their way, parks will close down completely in the coming days.
“National parks welcome visitors from around the world. Many National Park Service (NPS) employees interact with members of the public daily. These employees should not be exempt from recommendations made by the CDC. Further, to suggest to the public that gathering at national park sites is acceptable when gathering at restaurants, theaters, libraries, and other public spaces is no longer safe is irresponsible to the visiting public and employees.
The National Park Service should close all facilities that require employees and/or members of the public to be in close proximity and in confined spaces. In addition, park superintendents should be authorized to close any other facilities, such as restrooms, that they don’t have the ability to sanitize properly.
If that happened, it would follow precedence already established in most major tourist destinations throughout the world. The Louvre, Taj Mahal, Colosseum, Eiffel Tower and Tivoli have all announced closures lasting anywhere from April 16th through indefinitely. While National Parks give visitors hoping to escape from big city quarantine a chance to enjoy the outdoors, the possible spread of Coronavirus they could start is also instilling fear in some residents that live in the small towns near most of America’s National Parks.