Yellowstone National Park to partially reopen amid coronavirus pandemic

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The National Park Service announced Wednesday that the Yellowstone National Park, largely located in Wyoming, will partially reopen on Monday.

The park, which has been closed since March 24 due to the coronavirus pandemic, will slowly start to reopen in a three-phase plan.

Phase one, set to begin next week, grants access to roads, trails and boardwalks but “initially, only the lower loop of the road and adjacent trails will be open,” the National Park Service said.

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The lower loop has access to Yellowstone Lake, Canyon Village, Norris Geyser Basin, West Thumb Geyser and Grant Village.

Camping will not be permitted until phase two of the plan, but specific dates on when this would happen have not been released.

“These are incredible places that are special to the American public,” Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt said in a statement Wednesday. “I appreciate Superintendent Cam Sholly and Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail for working with [Wyoming Gov. Mark] Gordon and health officials to make the parks accessible to the public.”

Gordon this month initiated reopening the state. On May 1, gyms, hair salons and other businesses were permitted to reopen with certain protective measures in place.

Wyoming has also lifted all out-of-state requirements; this permits tourists from all over to visit Yellowstone National Park through the Wyoming entrances.

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Wyoming’s governor has been working in conjunction with Yellowstone Superintendent Cameron Sholly in reopening the park.

“The park’s goal is to open safely and conservatively, ensure we take the right actions to reduce risks to our employees and visitors, and help local economies begin to recover,” Sholly said in Wednesday’s statement.

“I appreciate the cooperation we’ve had with our surrounding governors, counties, communities, and health officials in working through these challenging decisions. Our goal is to get the remaining entrances open as quickly and safely as possible.”

But Idaho and Montana have not yet lifted these regulations, which means the remaining three entrances to the park remain closed.

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“While our economy certainly relies upon and we appreciate our visitors, we also want to ensure that those visitors don’t bring problems, meaning their infections, from their home state to our state. And when they do, we want to make sure that Montana is prepared,” Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said in a Wednesday press briefing.

The governor said that Montana’s entrances to Yellowstone National Park will not reopen “until June 1, at the earliest.”