Federal Government Closes Grand Canyon National Park

By Laurel Morales
Published: Wednesday, April 1, 2020 - 4:30pm
Updated: Wednesday, April 1, 2020 - 4:32pm

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Grand Canyon tourists
Laurel Morales/KJZZ
In 2017, 330 million people visited national parks.

The federal government announced Wednesday the immediate closure of Grand Canyon National Park to keep visitors and workers safe from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

On March 18, more than two weeks after the first case was reported in the U.S., Interior Secretary David Bernhardt encouraged people to visit national parks and waived all entrance fees.

The Coalition to Protect America's National Parks, a group representing Park Service Employees, sent a letter to the secretary to express their "grave concerns" about putting workers and communities at "serious risk."

Wednesday's announcement comes after the president of the Navajo Nation, the Coconino County board of supervisors, and park staff strongly urged the National Park Service to close Grand Canyon.

The Park Service said in a statement it's modifying its operations on a park-by-park basis in accordance with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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