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Many national parks remain open during outbreak

Chelsey and Chris Stevens hike a section of the Florida Trail March 15 in Ocala National Forest.

PATRICK CONNOLLY, ORLANDO SENTINEL/TNS

By MACKENZIE CULLEN | TravelPulse | Published: March 26, 2020

Many American national parks are remaining open amid the coronavirus outbreak to serve as a refuge for those who feel stuck at home. Though there are many restrictions, national parks can still be enjoyed by those who want to get some fresh air and exercise.

While the buildings of all national parks, including entrance booths, will be closed, rangers are to be stationed outside to field visitors' questions.

These new restrictions have been put in place by the National Park Service, which has been following the latest guidelines from the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to keep outdoor spaces open while giving park superintendents the power to close or modify operations.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has even waived National Park Service entrance fees during this time so that people can experience the outdoors but "implement some social distancing."

However, while these new restrictions have the goal of minimizing the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus, they can make enjoying specific parks difficult for the public.

The lack of shuttles in parks such as Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park means that visitors must wait for limited parking to free up before entering.

Additionally, the lack of resources means that guests must be extra careful while walking throughout the parks, particularly in areas with colder climates as rescues may be more difficult.

According to ABC News, others remain skeptical about allowing national parks to remain open to the public during the current outbreak.

Concerns of overcrowding have been raised by the Coalition to Protect America's National Parks, while Utah hospitals are concerned with people gathering in hotels, bars, restaurants and trailheads after their visits.

While several national parks have taken these concerns to heart and remain closed to the public, many parks are determined to remain open until further notice.

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