Norton Asks for National Park Service’s Plan to Protect Workers At Outdoor Properties During Coronavirus Crisis

Mar 21, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has sent a letter to David Vela, Acting Director of the National Park Service (NPS), expressing concern about the health of employees who continue to work at outdoor NPS properties during the coronavirus crisis.


Norton’s letter asks Acting Director Vela for details about how NPS is protecting any workers who are still staffing outdoor properties. In particular, Norton asks whether NPS has conducted job hazard analyses, what kind of guidance NPS has given workers about social distancing, whether employees who clean NPS facilities will be provided personal protective equipment, and whether paid leave will be provided to employees who have been told not to come to work but who do not have the ability to telework. Norton asks Acting Director Vela to provide a written response in the next five days.


While most indoor NPS properties have closed, some outdoor facilities are still open. Most parkland in the District of Columbia is owned by NPS, meaning many of the employees affected are Norton’s constituents.


“We all want to ensure that every NPS employee is kept safe,” said Norton. “I am particularly concerned for the safety of federal employees who work on the front lines.


The letter follows:



March 20, 2020


David Vela

Acting Director

National Park Service

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20240



Dear Acting Director Vela:


I am concerned about the health of National Park Service (NPS) employees who continue to staff NPS outdoor properties, including in the District of Columbia, during the coronavirus. While I understand that most NPS indoor properties, such as visitor centers, have been closed, some outdoor properties appear to be open to the public throughout the country. We all want to ensure that every NPS employee is kept safe. I ask that you provide a written response immediately addressing the following matters regarding NPS employees who work at outdoor properties:


  • Has NPS conducted, or will it conduct, job hazard analyses?
  • Will NPS continue to require that maintenance employees ride together in trucks?
  • Will NPS provide guidance to employees on coronavirus infection control, including social distancing?
  • How frequently is NPS providing employee safety briefings?
  • Will employees cleaning facilities, such as bathrooms, be provided with full personal protective equipment? 
  • Which employees will be required to work on site and which will be allowed to telework?
  • Will employees who have been instructed not to come to work but whose jobs do not allow for telework be given paid leave? 




Eleanor Holmes Norton