The U.S. Capitol building, which closed to the public two years ago after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, is set to begin its phased reopening on Monday, according to a memo released on Wednesday.
House Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker and Capitol physician Brian Monahan wrote legislators and their staff to inform them that the reopening plan has been formally approved by the Capitol Police Board and the Architect of the Capitol, according to The Hill.
“We appreciate your continued patience and cooperation as we work together to resume public tours of the Capitol for the American people in a way that protects the health and safety of visitors and institutional staff alike,” they wrote.
During the first phase, visitors and school groups will be allowed to take limited tours to be led by legislators and staff members. Prior to this, the Capitol was only accessible to lawmakers, staffers, journalists, and visitors with official business. The House chamber viewing gallery will not be open to the public during the first phase.
The second phase is set to start at the end of May when the Capitol Visitor Center and other areas will have a limited reopening. The U.S. Botanic Garden will reopen on April 1.
House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said in a statement: “The United States Capitol is a global symbol of democracy and a monument to the American people and their government. I am hopeful today’s announced phased reopening is a significant first step towards returning to pre-pandemic levels of access for the American public at the United States Capitol.”
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