Yellowstone Park entrances in Montana opened to visitors

(Ryan Berry | Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP) In this Monday, June 1, 2020 photo, visitors walk away from Old Faithful as a sign about COVID-19 safety sits in the sidewalk in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Hundreds gathered at the Geyser for an afternoon eruption, and only a few dozen wore protective masks.

Bozeman, Mont. • Three Yellowstone National Park entrances have opened in Montana after they were closed two months ago to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Two entrances in Wyoming opened in the middle of May, and the three in Montana opened Monday, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported. Now all five park entrances are open.

Park officials say vehicles with license plates from about three dozen states drove through the gates but not all parts of the park were crowded with people.

"I'm sure it's going to get busier and busier," Yellowstone superintendent Cam Sholly said.

Park officials have implemented measures aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

"It's feasible that there will be some positive tests in Yellowstone at some point. I think it's important that not everybody go into freakout mode when that happens," Sholly said, adding that about 50 employees were tested last week. Results are expected this week.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

The park has kept seasonal employees in individual housing in case they need to be isolated and has spent more than $185,000 on personal protective equipment and signs urging visitors to take precautions, officials said.

In response to criticism on crowding in parts of the park, such as Old Faithful, Sholly said it would be irresponsible for him to send staff into crowds to force people to stay 6 feet apart.

Limiting the spread of the coronavirus is a "shared responsibility" between visitors and park staff, he said. "If the American public wants to see parks open, it's incumbent on them to act responsibly to keep them open."

Some parts of the park are still closed such as campgrounds and visitor centers.