Coronavirus concerns have effectively closed Acadia National Park to all visitors, as park officials announced Wednesday that they are shutting down several off-season functions.
Starting Thursday, Park Loop Road — including Ocean Drive — and all restrooms, carriage roads, campgrounds and visitor centers will close as park officials try to bring Acadia into compliance with state and local orders, said spokeswoman Christie Anastasia of the National Park Service.
The closure follows statements from Gov. Janet Mills and the Bar Harbor Town Council telling tourists to avoid visiting Maine to escape the pandemic. Keeping the park open with people coming in “from outside local communities” ― and possibly infected with the virus ― places local residents, health care workers and first responders at risk, park Superintendent Kevin Schneider said.
“The park and area first responders do not have adequate masks or other protective equipment to assist visitors,” Schneider said in a statement. “We have limited resources and any injuries in the park would place a strain on park and local first responders. The choice you take to enjoy a hike in the park could put someone else needing care related to COVID-19 in danger.”
Some things listed Wednesday had already been closed or cut back for the winter. Park roads had been closed to motorized traffic, and the campgrounds closed to campers, since October, but some campers had camped in unauthorized areas last weekend and had to be told to leave, Anastasia said.
State officials say state parks in Maine are seeing more visitors than is normal for this time of year. Anecdotally, residents of Bar Harbor and other towns on Mount Desert Island say they are seeing many more cars from out of state than is typical for this time of year, when continuing winter weather often keeps tourists away.
Park Loop Road is the main road through the park, which takes visitors to Sand Beach, Cadillac Mountain and other popular sites throughout the park. The carriage roads are typically open to hikers, bikers and horseback riders were closed on March 12 due to mud season, but will remain closed due to the pandemic. There are 45 miles of roads within the park.
The National Park Service did not say when the park will reopen, but it is providing updates on the park’s website.
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