SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is now requiring masks in their buildings but not everyone is following the rules.
The rule was reinstated Tuesday after both Sevier and Blount counties, which make up part of the Smoky Mountains, were rated at high risk of COVID-19 by the CDC. This is the first time that the park has required masks since the spring and not everyone is happy about the new rule.
“Yeah, I’m not a big fan of masks,” said Kenny Misconish who’s from Cleveland, Ohio, and is visiting the Smokies with his family.
There are signs posted on and near the front door of Sugarlands Visitor Center that say, “wearing a face mask is required in this building.”
“Once we’re here it says mask indoors, but we didn’t wear one,” said Julie Rafail from Perrysburg, Ohio.
Rob Britt who was with Rafail added, “we didn’t bring one.”
“Yeah, we’re not wearing a mask if at all possible,” said Rafail.
The National Park Service’s federal mask mandate was reinstated earlier this year. However, individual public lands managers like at the Smokies were given the authority to make decisions on whether they would require masks in their park based on area COVID-19 conditions.
The Smoky Mountains have thousands of visitors a day from all over the country. Some say similar mask rules apply in their area.
“At least as of when we left it was federal buildings and then I think most state buildings to you were required,” said Sharon and Jeff Geske from Peoria, Illinois. His wife, Sharon added, “and doctors’ offices.
Though some ignored the posted signs others followed the rules.
“We saw the signs. So, we were just trying to be courteous to anyone else that was in there and observe the rules,” said Jeff.
“We’re lucky we had them in the car,” said Sharon.
Park Services will be re-evaluating transmission levels every Thursday. So, this requirement could change week to week. They say they will keep visitors updated through their website.
Park Services say they are asking visitors to comply with the regulations and are ensuring their staff and volunteers are following the rules.