The National Park Service issued a memorandum dated April 5, 2020 in which it provided guidance for seasonal on-boarding and summer operations which applies to NPS as well as its concessioners. NPS stated that the direction was developed in conjunction with the United States Public Health Service. NPS’ goal “is to only bring in seasonal employees to support specific operational and housing interests.” The direction includes limiting seasonal hires now and through May 24 to only those necessary for current operational status, such as law enforcement, fire and maintenance. No seasonal on-boarding will be done for positions dealing with large visitor groups.
The memorandum was issued shortly after the Office of Public Health’s April 3 memorandum which noted that continued visitation to the national parks threatens the NPS workforce and “uniquely enhances COVID-19 risks in the neighboring communities and visitors.” The memorandum also found that leaving the parks open when social distancing is not being practiced and on-boarding seasonal employees will result in significantly more disease and deaths than if the parks were closed or operations were limited. In addition, the Office of Public Health recommended restricting park access in communities where there are stay-at-home orders if the park attracts large numbers of distant visitors.