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January 22, 2021

Media Contact: Emily Thompson, Emily_Thompson@protectnps.org, 202-758-3936

Coalition Applauds Federal Mask Mandate

President Biden recently signed an Executive Order that requires all federal employees and contractors, as well as visitors, to wear masks in federal buildings and on federal lands. It also directs those on federal property to maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures, as provided in CDC guidelines.

The Coalition to Protect America’s National Park, an organization representing over 1,800 current, former, and retired employees, applauded the decision.

“We have been urging the federal government to ensure that the health and safety of NPS employees, volunteers, concessionaires, visitors, and residents of gateway communities is a top priority,” said Phil Francis, Chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks.

“There is still work to be done but this is a positive step forward and we are pleased to see the new administration taking the pandemic seriously.”

Previously, guidance on safety measures at federal sites during the COVID-19 pandemic was inconsistent and often left park managers and employees uncertain as to appropriate actions.

In a document shared with the Biden transition team prior to the Inauguration, the Coalition recommended that mask wearing become a non-negotiable, on-the-job requirement and that the public be required to wear masks on federal property.

“We are pleased that President Biden has already accomplished this priority. Evidence is clear that wearing masks will save lives,” said Francis.

The Coalition also provided the Biden administration with a roadmap containing a number of other recommendations for the NPS. These proposals were focused on four primary areas involving NPS Leadership and Organization, Resource Stewardship, Visitor Experience, and Employee Support.

“We are hopeful that more positive changes related to the protection of our national parks and public lands, as well as the health and safety of our federal workforce, are coming soon.”

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