HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The first order in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring face masks be worn on all federal property. That is impacting places like Hot Springs where a big piece of the city is Hot Springs National Park.
Whether folks are shopping at a boutique or sitting down at a restaurant in downtown Hot Springs, masking up is nothing new when indoors.
“Over the course of the year I feel like it’s almost become an accessory,” Hot Springs resident Sarah Swartz said.
A federal order is extending that reach to places like national parks. Now, the National Park Service is requiring those hiking the trails or gazing out at the view to cover their face if they can’t keep their distance.
“I didn’t think about that one shoot,” Hot Springs resident Mary Cantrell said.
Cantrell and her friend Cassie Cheetham both knew about the executive order but said wearing a mask outdoors will be quite the change.
“I don’t like to wear one outside usually,” Cheetham said.
While the campgrounds and maps make it pretty obvious it is national park land, in downtown Hot Springs the line between federal property and city property is separated by Central Avenue. That means Bathhouse Row falls under the mandate.
“I didn’t realize that,” Cheetham said.
“I did but it didn’t process fully I don’t think,” Cantrell said.
Both Cantrell and Cheetham had masks on hand to put on, others like Sarah Swartz already had their face covered.
“I walk almost daily down here,” Swartz said.
Swartz said she knows how crowded the sidewalks can get.
“You would have a hard time getting by people,” Swartz said.
She said overall, there hasn’t been much pushback to the order.”It seems like a lot of people are following the ordinance,” Swartz said.
As the tourists start filling the Spa City, they hope it continues.
Employees and visitors are also required to wear masks in all park buildings and facilities.