Though non-essential travel is advised against for all California residents (and, in the case of six Bay Area counties, legally banned), the federal government says that Yosemite National Park will remain open for now. But visitors will have to make alternate plans for food or lodging, as Aramark, the private company that manages its lodging, tours, and dining facilities, says that it will shut down all operations “as a precaution due to coronavirus concerns” until March 31.
“The health and safety of Yosemite National Park visitors and park employees is the park’s top priority,” Aramark said in a statement, writing that “the park will continue to review operations and reopen facilities when appropriate.”
The move follows a Monday night call from California Governor Gavin Newsom for restaurants across the state to shutter dining rooms and pivot to takeout and delivery models “for the moment.” Newsom’s guidance is not an executive order, he noted Monday, saying that he was “confident that these guidelines will be followed.” (It should be noted that as federal land, the park isn’t beholden to most statewide mandates, so closures like these are made at the National Park Service level, not a local one.)
The shuttered venues include the Ahwahnee Hotel (formerly known as the Majestic Yosemite Hotel) and its fine dining restaurant; the Yosemite Valley Lodge and its Mountain Room Restaurant and Base Camp Eatery; and Wawona Hotel (which was briefly known as the Big Trees Lodge from 2016-2019) and its bar and on-site dining facilities.
The SF Chronicle reports that the park will also shutter its visitor centers and indoor exhibits, but trails and some campgrounds will stay open for now. Yosemite National Park includes five California counties: Madera, Mariposa, Tuolumne, and Mono. According to the East Bay Times, out of all those, only one case of COVID-19 has been reported in any of those, a single case in Madera County. As of publication time 583 cases have been reported in the state of California, a triple increase from Wednesday, March 11.