Two Of US’s Most Popular National Parks Reopen After Officials Closed Them Over COVID Concerns

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Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons will begin reopening to the public next week after they were closed due to concerns officials had related to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The parks will open to the public on May 18 after officials closed them to visitors March 24 due to the pandemic, the National Park Service noted in a pair of press statements Wednesday. The NPS noted that the reopening was done with guidance from the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 83,000 people have died from coronavirus, or COVID-19, which originated in China before spreading worldwide.

“These are incredible places that are special to the American public. I appreciate Superintendent Sholly and Acting Superintendent Noojibail for working with Governor Gordon and health officials to make the parks accessible to the public,” Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt wrote in the statement.

The NPS is an agency of the Department of the Interior.

Bernhardt was referring to Grand Teton National Park Deputy Acting Deputy Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail and Wyoming Republican Gov. Mark Gordon.

Grand Teton will also have limited public availability, with road access to public restroom areas, day-use hiking on some trails, lakeshore fishing, and limited biking and wildlife tours, the statement noted. Other areas will remain unavailable to the public due to health concerns.

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“This plan is designed to protect employees, visitors and community members. Spring in Teton County would just not be the same without the opportunity to appreciate Grand Teton National Park up close,” Gordon said in the statement. Both parks are big draws for the NPS.

Yellowstone National Parks is the country’s sixth-most popular national park, with 4 million visitors in 2019. Grand Teton National Park, meanwhile, is the eighth-most popular national park, with 3.4 million visitors that year. Yellowstone is located in three states — Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

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