The United States Capitol will reopen for tours next week

The United States Capitol will officially begin reopening to visitors and tourists on Monday, after being closed to the public for about...

The United States Capitol will officially begin reopening to visitors and tourists on Monday, after being closed to the public for about two years due to the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns following the Jan. 6 riot.

A limited reopening will begin March 28 with legislator-guided tours and staff-guided tours for up to 15 people as well as a limited number of school tours, according to a memo from William J. Walker, the House Sergeant-at-Arms, and Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician. Tours of the Capitol Dome for up to eight people will begin April 25, and the Capitol Visitor Center will fully open at the end of May.

“We appreciate your continued patience and cooperation as we work together to resume public tours of the Capitol for the American people in a manner that protects the health and safety of visitors and institutional staff,” Mr. Walker and Dr. Monahan in the note.

Both men said the phased reopening was coordinated with leaders in Congress, the US Capitol Police Board, Capitol Police and other leaders.

The Capitol has seen an increase in visitors in recent weeks, even before the announcement was made. The official reopening comes as pandemic restrictions ease across the country and just weeks after House leaders announced that masks would no longer be required in the room, regardless of vaccination status. The White House said last week that public tours would begin in Aprilafter being closed to the public due to the pandemic.

Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, the nonvoting representative from Washington, DC, said the reopening was too slow, especially given the effectiveness of vaccines.

“American symbols of democracy should be accessible to the people we serve,” she said in a statement. “Already, the distance between the government and the people has widened, with trust in government at an all-time low. We should not drive that distance any further or any longer by delaying the reopening of the Capitol, especially when the tools exist to prevent serious illness and death from Covid-19.”

Republicans, many of whom avoided mask-wearing and other pandemic restrictions long before this year, have been pushing for Democratic leaders to agree to reopen the building. But there was a surge of recent coronavirus cases on Capitol Hill, with Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, announcing a positive test Tuesday.

The Capitol first closed in March 2020, but its reopening was delayed as new variants swept the country and security concerns increased after the January 6 riot. The ranks of the Capitol police were depleted after the attack, as officers recovered from the mental and physical trauma they had suffered defending the building.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The United States Capitol will reopen for tours next week
The United States Capitol will reopen for tours next week
Newsrust - US Top News
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