Philadelphia Inquirer:

Yong Kim / Staff Photographer
A posted COVID-19 Safety Alert sign sits at the entrance at the Liberty Bell in the Independence National Historical Park.

Signs note “face coverings are required per city/state” orders. They make no mention of the official policy of the Department of the Interior, which oversees the National Park Service: Masks are not required, even indoors. And staff can suggest mask usage, but not enforce it.

“We are not able to police that,” said Leslie Obelschuk, a spokesperson. “We’re not permitted to. It’s Park Service policy.”

“Staff are very frustrated that we cannot make people wear masks,” said the staffer, adding that it’s already become a common sight to see visitors removing their masks once they’re inside security at the Liberty Bell, or pulling them below their chins to take selfies or speak to rangers. For staff, the only recourse is to flee: “The park has been really supportive of that: If you don’t feel comfortable, get yourself out of the situation.”

Yong Kim / Staff Photographer
Visitors wait to visit the Liberty Bell in the Independence National Historical Park.

As for staff, some have negotiated assign­ments that require less exposure to the public, and at least one has requested to take a leave of absence, said Jeff Sievert, acting president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2058, which represents unionized park staff.

“My members love what we do for the Park Service, protecting such a historic site. We just hope that visitors would have the same reverence for their own health and safety and the health and safety of our members as they do for these historic buildings.”

Fleeing (which the park has been really supportive of), and hoping. I mean, as union members what else is there to do?

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