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Parts of Smoky Mountains to reopen starting this weekend

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which has been closed since late March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, is starting to reopen parts of the park, beginning with many roads and trails this weekend.

New safety measures will be implemented in facility operations and services to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as areas reopen, the park said in a news release. Some of the measures will include reduced group size limits, disinfectant fogging for restrooms and public buildings, installation of plexiglass shields at visitor centers and personal protective equipment requirements for maintenance workers, the release said.

During the first phase, campgrounds, picnic pavillions, visitor centers and many secondary roads will remain closed, the park said. The first phase begins Saturday and is expected to last at least two weeks.

The park will monitor functions to ensure that visitors abide by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to avoid risks of transmitting the coronavirus, the release said.