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Mount Rainier National Park closed to vehicles during government shutdown

The list of government-run entities forced to close during the shutdown grows by the day. Over the weekend Mount Rainier National Park closed to drivers.

The National Park Service closed the Nisqually gate Sunday, blocking access to Mount Rainier National Park and essentially closing the park to visitors.

"Due to the unavailability of park staff to provide essential public services and ensure continued road safety for visitors, this closure to public vehicles is expected to continue until further notice," the National Park Service said Sunday.

Last week Mount Rainier National Park remained partially open. Visitors could enter the Nisqually gate and travel to Longmire. But the road to Paradise was closed along with all visitor centers, contact stations, and permit desks.

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Rainier Guest Services contracts with the National Parks Service to provide retail, restaurant, and hotel service to park visitors. Mid-Sunday, Rainier Guest Services shutdown operations.

Management at the National Park Inn at Longmire, which Rainier Guest Services helps operate, determined the businesses would not make enough money following the busy holiday season and closed after breakfast on Sunday. The lodge and restaurant had been open during the first two weeks of the shutdown.

Operations Manager Melinda Simpson said 35 of the 45 private employees at Longmire had been laid off. Unlike federal employees who will likely receive back pay after the shutdown is over, Simpson said her employees would not.

"A beautiful park. The park of the people and they close the gates," said Simpson. "Even if you think it's not going to happen, it becomes terribly real."

The impact is also being felt outside of the park.

"This is unconscionable that this is occurring. It's not ok," said Phil Freeman, owner of the Copper Creek Restaurant outside the park's newly closed Nisqually entrance.

RELATED: Park Service to tap into entrance fees to keep operating

Freeman said the shutdown is hurting business and he and his wife have talked about closing on weekdays or even shutting down as long as the government shutdown lasts.

"It's not big, it's only 23 families we're dealing with," said Freeman sarcastically. "It's emotional to have to let them go."

The National Park Service reminded visitors there is no public parking outside the park gate and traveling by foot on park roads is prohibited.

Olympic National Park is open with limited access during the shutdown, but most park roads and campgrounds are closed due to damage from a December storm. Kalaloch Lodge and Lake Crescent Lodge remain open, but all visitor centers, contact stations, and permit desks are closed.

WATCH: Mount Rainier National Park impacted by shutdown

Editor's note: The video above was originally published January 2, 2019 before Mount Rainier National Park closed.