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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Great Smoky Mountains, NPS now require face masks outside in places where social distancing is not possible

The rules call for visitors and employees to wear masks inside and outside in places where people cannot maintain a safe social distance.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — If you're heading to the Smokies soon, pack a face mask.

The National Park Service announced face masks are required in buildings, including visitor centers, historic structures and museums; and on land maintained by the park service.

The rules call for visitors and employees to wear masks inside and outside in places where people cannot maintain a safe social distance such as narrow or busy trails, overlooks and parking lots.

In the Smokies, masks are required inside visitor centers, cabins, churches, restrooms and administrative buildings, according to Great Smoky Mountains National Park spokesperson Dana Soehn. Masks are also required at busy outdoor places when physical distancing cannot be maintained. 

With 384 miles of roadways and more than 800 miles of trails, the park has ample opportunities for visitors to spread out and enjoy opportunities to safely and responsibly recreate, Soehn said.

By using a mask while passing hikers along a trail or when standing at a busy location within six feet of others, visitors will be in compliance with the mask requirement, according to park officials.

Soehn said the park is working to put up signs on buildings and getting more information online and on social media for visitors.

Additional public health measures are in place across the National Park System, from capacity limits to one-way trails or temporary closures in response to local conditions, according to the NPS.