The Capitol grounds will be restricted for the rest of the month, according to congressional officials. It’s the latest restriction in response to the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus in DC.
Starting at 5 PM Thursday, the Capitol Visitors Center will begin a temporary closure, and public tours around the Capitol grounds will be suspended. The Capitol complex will also be restricted only to members of Congress, their staffs, credentialed press, and “official business visitors.” The restrictions apply to the Capitol building, as well as House and Senate office buildings.
The announcement was made this morning in an internal memo circulated jointly by the Senate and House sergeants-at-arms.
New statement from the House and Senate Sergeant at Arms regarding Temporary Closure of Capitol Complex pic.twitter.com/6qm0ItpB59
— Alex Moe (@AlexNBCNews) March 12, 2020
The memo says that the restrictions will be in place until April 1.
Officials at the House Sergeant at Arms office could not be reached for comment about the possibility that the April 1 deadline might be extended, or whether future advisories were likely.
The office couldn’t estimate the last time similar precautions were taken. In October 2001, an anthrax scare resulted in the closure of House and Senate buildings around the Capitol. Before then, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, a state of emergency was declared across the capital. All federal office buildings and embassies were closed, and a regiment of light infantry was deployed.