Park Service restricting tour guide access at Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island

ELLIS ISLAND (WABC) -- The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will continue to welcome the huddled masses -- but not necessarily tour guides.

The National Park Service is still encouraging organized tours, but guides will be barred from both the Statue of Liberty's outdoor observation deck and at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration.

The agency says the move is being made to combat overcrowding and gridlock at the sites.

The ban goes into effect on May 16, but there will be certain exceptions.

During the colder months from November to March and periods of inclement weather, commercial tour guides may provide a brief site orientation for their group in the first-floor Baggage Room of the museum.

Officials say the new restrictions are a necessary response to a 600% increase in commercial tours over the last decade.

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