GETTYSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Gettysburg National Military Park is re-imposing mask mandates in certain areas.
“We’ve actually just reinstated where we were previously,” Park Superintendent Steven Sims said. The trigger, he says, is a rising Covid transmission rate in Adams County.
“When we were in the high transmission rate we had the same masking requirements and lifted them when we dropped below into moderate. But since it’s crept back up, we wanted to make sure our visitors have the safest visit they can.”
The re-imposed restrictions are in open places-areas you wouldn’t think of as infection vectors. But they have something in common-crowding. Take, for instance, the park’s observation towers. They are open, breezy metal frameworks — with choke points.
“There’s one way in and one way out, on a narrow staircase, and there’s limited space up on top. ” Sims said. “So there’s high potential, because they’re so popular, that you could get a busload of visitors come up the tower all at once. It would be very difficult to socially distance from others and so masking is just the safest way to go.”
Another location — Little Round Top.
“Very popular destination for our visitors, and rightly so.” the Superintendent said. “And because it’s so heavily visited, get so many people up there, again, you can get busloads of visitors at once. Very crowded space.”
Two monuments are also on the list. Both the memorial to the 12th and 44th New York Regiments on Little Round Top, and the Pennsylvania Monument near the High Water Mark, have observation decks. And both decks have extremely cramped access.
“There’s a narrow staircase to get to the top of that monument, and potential for overcrowding that space.” Sims said. “So out of an abundance of caution and for the safety of our visitors a mask is required.”
Sims says they don’t want to have to force people to follow the rules.
“We want to educate. Advise people of their own safety and the safety of others, and make sure they understand the park rules and why, because we want to have our visitors to have a safe and enjoyable visit here in Gettysburg National Military Park.”