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Capitol to reopen to public after 2 years of COVID restrictions

The US Capitol will reopen to the public this month after more than two years of COVID-19 restrictions if a pending plan is approved in response to bipartisan pressure.

The first phase of the reopening will begin on March 28 if the plan is approved, Fox News reported Monday.

Convention bureaus would be allowed 15-person tours of the Capitol, and school groups would be allowed four tours per hour up to 50 people, from 8.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m., This is reported by Fox News reporter Chad Pergram.

Lawmakers from both parties have campaigned for the pandemic restrictions to end as coronavirus cases ease and authorities waive mask mandates.

3rd House Republican Elise Stefanik (R-NY) slammed the extended shutdown in a March 3 statement.

“Since then, 719 days have passed [House] speaker [Nancy] Pelosi closed the People’s House to the public. This far exceeds the length of any previous closure over the course of the Capitol’s more than 200-year history,” Stefanik said, adding, “Speaker Pelosi – reopen the House of the People today.”

Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
If the plan goes through, the convention bureaus could offer tours for groups of 15 people.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

Many Democrats also called for an end to the restrictions.

“I would like to see the Capitol reopened safely to tourists,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) said recently. “A lot of my constituents are asking to visit, and I think they should be able to come back.”

“It’s about time the US Capitol was reopened to visitors,” said Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, non-voting member of the DC House of Representatives, said last week. “Given the importance of the Capitol to DC’s tourism economy, it is about time the Capitol reopened to visitors like the rest of DC is already doing.”

The first phase of reopening would be far from ordinary pre-pandemic operations.

Before the pandemic, the Capitol’s cavernous rotunda was generally so crowded with groups of visitors that the indoor environment was humid and people working in the building had to wade through congested hallways.

MP Elise Stefanik previously called for the building to reopen earlier this month.
MP Elise Stefanik previously called for the building to reopen earlier this month.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Image

The US Capitol Police Department has yet to approve the reopening plan, per gram reported.

Congress quickly approved a $2.1 billion package to Increased security after last year’s Capitol riotbut Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger said in January that “we still have a long way to go before we can reopen the campus.”

“Staffing is the biggest problem” said managers. “We’re about 440 to 50 officers below where we need to be to handle the workload we’re responsible for.”

https://nypost.com/2022/03/14/capitol-set-to-reopen-to-public-after-2-years-of-covid-restrictions/ Capitol to reopen to public after 2 years of COVID restrictions

JACLYN DIAZ

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