U.S. capital landmarks closing to public over COVID-19 outbreak

Source: Xinhua| 2020-03-13 04:46:07|Editor: ZD
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Photo taken on March 12, 2020 shows the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C., the United States. Several landmarks in Washington D.C., including the White House, are closing to the public over an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in the nation. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua)

WASHINGTON, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Several landmarks in Washington, D.C., including the White House, are closing to the public over an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in the nation.

"Out of an abundance of caution, all White House tours have been temporarily suspended, effective immediately," the White House Visitors Office said in a message.

The Capitol canceled all tours Wednesday night and issued further restrictions to the public on Thursday.

Access to the Capitol and to the House and Senate office buildings "will be limited to members, staff, credentialed press and official business visitors," said Paul Irving, the House sergeant at arms, and Michael Stenger, the Senate sergeant of arms, in a statement.

These restrictions at the Capitol are expected to continue until April 4.

The Supreme Court is also taking precautious measures. "Out of concern for the health and safety of the public and Supreme Court employees, the Supreme Court Building will be closed to the public from 4:30 p.m. on March 12, 2020, until further notice," it said in a statement.

"The Building will remain open for official business, and case filing deadlines are not extended," the statement added.

Alyssa Farah, press secretary of the Pentagon, located across a river from Washington, D.C. in Arlington, Virginia, tweeted that all tours will be canceled until further notice.

"We regret the inconvenience to our more than 2,000 visitors a week, but our key priorities are the health of our people & ensuring our ability to continue executing vital national security missions," she said.

The Smithsonian Institution said on Thursday that they are "postponing or canceling all rentals, public events, programming and gatherings through May 3."

The Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. and New York City, along with the National Zoo, however, will remain open and operate during their regularly scheduled hours, according to a press release.

Washington, D.C. and neighboring states of Virginia and Maryland have all declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 outbreak.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were over 1,300 confirmed cases and 38 deaths in the United States, according to real-time data maintained by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.


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