The White House will reopen to the public next month after being shuttered two years amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it said on Tuesday, with the U.S. Capitol reportedly also weighing plans.
The White House will reopen for tours starting April 15 two days a week, it said in a statement, adding that masks are optional and those who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus or are otherwise possibly ill should not attend.
The reopening comes as U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration works to roll out vaccines across the country in an effort to stem the pandemic, which has killed more than 527,000 Americans.
The White House had been closed to tours since March of 2020 as the pandemic spread across the United States. The move was part of a series of precautions taken by the Trump administration to protect against the virus.
The Capitol building has also been closed to the public since March of 2020. It is not clear when or if it will reopen. Both Trump and Biden had limited public access to their inauguration ceremonies in January amid concerns about the virus. During his first tour as president, Biden visited the Lincoln Memorial and signed an Executive Order reopening national parks and monuments that had been.
Although the United States is still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are signs that the worst may be over. Cases have been declining since the Omicron variant-driven spike, and Congress is considering a phased reopening starting March 28. The full reopening would happen by September 5. These moves come as other countries, such as those in Europe and China, are seeing an uptick in cases. However, experts say that the vaccine rollout in the United States should help to prevent another wave from hitting here. So while there is still some way to go, it seems that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer.
The White House has said that it will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and base its guidance on recommendations from the CDC and other public health officials. This comes as cases in the US are expected to fluctuate. The White House is also seeking more funding to manage current cases and bolster the nation’s long-term preparedness. This includes preparing for future variants of the virus.
Despite the progress that has been made in the fight against COVID-19, there is still more work to be done. This was the message from President Biden in a tweet on Tuesday. He urged everyone to continue to follow the coronavirus guidelines, such as wearing a mask and maintaining social distance.
Washington officials have lifted most coronavirus restrictions, but this does not mean that the danger has passed. The Smithsonian has reopened two of its attractions, but most of its museums are still on modified schedules. It is important to remember that we are not out of the woods yet and we must all do our part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.