The U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC—a top U.S. tourist destination for groups of all kinds—has begun a phased reopening, allowing visitor access to the building for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Seen as a welcomed step by many, the complex has been shut down to the general public since March 12, 2020.
Destination DC has shared that the reopening plan outlines three phases for reopening the U.S. Capitol to visitors and the general public. The first phase of the reopening, which recently began on March 28, allows for the return of staff-led tours, with a limit of 15 people per tour. Visitors on official business are also allowed, with a 15-person limit. Capitol tours for K-12 students resume between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, with a total of eight tours per day for groups limited to a maximum of 50 students.
The decision to reinstate limited tours was made in coordination with Congressional Leadership, the U.S. Capitol Police Board, the Attending Physician, Capitol Visitor Services and the U.S. Capitol Police.
“For meeting attendees and visitors coming to Washington, DC, being able to visit the U.S. Capitol, the most recognizable symbol of our democracy, anchors the American experience,” says Elliott L. Ferguson, II, President and CEO of Destination DC. “To be able to spend time inside the Capitol and other iconic venues on the National Mall brings the Washington, DC experience to life and makes for an unforgettable event.”
The second phase of the reopening plan is tentatively scheduled to begin on May 30 and would involve a limited reopening of the Capitol Visitor Center, which could include the CVC restaurant. The third reopening phase is anticipated to begin on Labor Day, September 5, and would involve the reopening of the entire Capitol complex for business as usual. Masks mandates for the Capitol were lifted on February 27.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.
Photo courtesy of washington.org.