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NPS: Masks required in Great Smoky Mountains facilities due to 'high' COVID-19 transmission

A spokesperson said that after the federal mask mandate was rescinded earlier this year, park managers continued monitoring COVID-19 data.

Great Smoky Mountains Natl. Park — The National Park Service said that they notified employees and partners of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that masks would be required inside all park facilities on Friday.

They said they made the decision after monitoring the level of COVID-19 transmission in counties across the Great Smoky Mountains. They monitored the spread of COVID-19 with the COVID Data Tracker from the Centers for Disease Control.

The park's policies and the Smokies Adaptive Operations COVID-19 Plan require masks in all federal buildings if a county within the park has a "high" transmission level for seven consecutive days.

They said the Smokies reached the initial threshold on July 28, when Blount County and Sevier County reported "high" transmission levels. The following week, on August 4, they were again reported as "high."

On the next day, August 5, the National Park Service notified their employees that masks would be required "to protect the health and safety of you, your co-workers, partners, contractors, and park visitors."

Visitors are also required to wear masks inside of all buildings, regardless of their vaccination status. That includes visitor centers, campground offices and restrooms.

Park leaders said that would continue monitoring the COVID-19 transmission levels and if rates fall back to "medium" or "low" for Blount County and Sevier County, for seven consecutive days, they would remove the masking requirement.

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