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Glacier National Park brings back indoor mask mandate

Masked park ranger talks with a visitor.jpg
Glacier National Park
A park ranger talks to a visitor at an outdoor information station at Glacier National Park's Logan Pass Visitor Center.

News Brief

Glacier National Park has re-instituted a mask mandate inside federal buildings, like visitor centers.

While many commenters bemoaned the decision on social media, park officials say it’s from federal guidance handed down by the National Park Service and the Interior Department. When the CDC reports a high level of COVID-19 community spread around a park, NPS policy requires indoor mask requirements to come back.

“In our situation, Glacier National Park covers two counties. If either one of those counties hit “high” then there’s protocol that we follow that includes whether or not you have to wear masks,” said Gina Kerzman, a public information officer with the park.

That happened last week in Glacier County, Montana, which includes part of the park and much of the Blackfeet Reservation.

“If the levels go down, then we hope to rescind the mask mandate. But we’re just ready to respond according to our protocols,” she said.

Other national parks could bring back mask requirements, too, if rates increase around the West.

However, some experts say reported COVID-19 infections are likely undercounted because many vaccinated people are having milder symptoms and at-home tests are easier to get.

Kerzman says from what park staff can tell, with or without a mask mandate, it will still be a busy year with vehicle reservations selling out daily.

She added that the mandate may prompt changes to park programming, including some activities having limited numbers or moving outside.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

I'm the regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau at Boise State Public Radio.