CINCINNATI — Masks will be mandatory for all Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden visitors, including those in outdoor spaces, starting when the PNC Festival of Lights begins Nov. 21.
Zoo spokeswoman Michelle Curley announced the new policy Wednesday in response to the spiking COVID-19 case totals recently recorded throughout Ohio and neighboring states.
Previously, zoo guests were required to wear masks in all indoor habitats and some especially crowded outdoor exhibits, such as the popular Hippo Cove and Gorilla World.
Starting Nov. 21, it’ll be across-the-board for all guests over the age of six. Guests who do not already have masks can purchase them at the zoo gate.
The Festival of Lights, a zoo holiday tradition, will make additional adjustments for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even Santa will be wearing a mask,” Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard said in a news release. “We’ve created a whole village for Santa so kids can visit him in an outdoor setting and also get photos without getting too close.”
The zoo will continue to require reservations in advance of each visit to keep capacity low and give each guest a chance to safely enjoy the exhibits.
November has been a dire month for the entire United States. Nationally, new daily case numbers have exceed 100,000 every day since Nov. 4; Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana are all reporting more new cases per day than they did per week in spring and early summer.