DC delegate calls for closure of Lincoln and Jefferson memorials

DC delegate calls for closure of Lincoln and Jefferson memorials
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Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonFedEx asks Redskins to change team name Sunday shows preview: With coronavirus cases surging, lawmakers and health officials weigh in House approves statehood for DC in 232-180 vote MORE (D), Washington, D.C.’s nonvoting representative in Congress, on Tuesday asked the head of the National Park Service (NPS) to close the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials to help prevent spread of the coronavirus.

D.C. officials have taken steps in recent weeks to prevent large gatherings at major tourist attractions, such as closing streets around the Tidal Basin because people kept coming to see the cherry blossoms in bloom.

Norton asked the acting director of the National Park Service, David Vela, to close the chambers of the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials as well to maintain social distancing measures.

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"I have received reports that the chambers have been crowded, particularly on weekends, making social distancing difficult if not impossible. Closure would protect the public and NPS employees, including U.S. Park Police officers. Federal agencies need to lead by example and do everything possible to flatten the curve," Norton wrote in a letter to Vela.

The NPS has already closed indoor venues such as visitor centers and the Washington Monument in response to the pandemic.

Norton asked for a response within five days.

The spring weather in Washington and recent peak bloom for the cherry blossoms led to crowds around the Tidal Basin last month despite federal guidelines urging people to avoid clustering in groups. U.S. Park Police subsequently closed streets and parking lots surrounding the Tidal Basin to discourage people from visiting.

As of Tuesday morning, the District had more than 1,200 confirmed coronavirus cases, along with more than 4,300 in Maryland and 3,300 in Virginia.