Rocky Mountain National Park closes amid coronavirus outbreak at the request of mayor, local health department

Rocky Mountain National Park closes amid coronavirus outbreak at the request of mayor, local health department

Rocky Mountain National Park will be closed until further notice due the coronavirus outbreak, park officials announced Friday evening.

According to a news release, the closure came at the request of the local health department in Estes Park. Earlier in the day, Estes Park mayor Todd Jirsa called on Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to close the park in order to limit visitors coming through the town, which saw its first positive coronavirus test on Thursday.

The closure began at 7 p.m. Friday and was officially announced an hour later.

“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Rocky Mountain National Park is our number one priority,” the news release said. “The National Park Service is working with the federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.”

Earlier in the week, the park closed visitor’s centers and eliminated entry fees but remained open. Entrance gates were closed earlier Friday because more than a foot of snow fell and plowing was hindered by shortage of plow drivers.

Several national parks have closed over the last week. In Washington, D.C., the Washington Monument closed March 14. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco — along with Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in New York — closed March 16. Yosemite National Park closed Friday afternoon.

In Colorado, most outdoor areas remain open, but Manitou Incline and Waterton Canyon both closed March 18.

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