Smithsonian museums, Arlington National Cemetery close amid coronavirus concerns

Smithsonian museums, Arlington National Cemetery close amid coronavirus concerns
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Two Washington, D.C.- area organizations announced Thursday that they will temporarily close some of the city's most popular sites amid concerns about the spreading novel coronavirus.

The Smithsonian museums and Arlington National Cemetery, as well as both the Kennedy Center and Ford’s Theater, said they will close in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, citing the need to protect visitors, staff and the general population from the outbreak. 

“As a public health precaution due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), all Smithsonian museums in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and in New York City, including the National Zoo, will temporarily close to the public starting Saturday, March 14,” a press release from the Smithsonian group read. 

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In a tweet to followers, Arlington National Cemetery announced that beginning on Friday the cemetery will be closed for visitors. Funerals that have already been scheduled will continue, but those who are there for services will be required to remain in their cars “when they arrive to the necessary queuing lanes.” 

“ANC is complying with the DOD directives and supplemental 'Force Health Protection Guidance for the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak' and has implemented risk-based measures consistent with guidance the Centers for Disease Control,” the cemetery tweeted. 

“Arlington National Cemetery would like to thank their dedicated workforce and service members who must remain at the cemetery to ensure that the nation’s veterans and families receive the dignified honors they deserve,” it continued. 

 

 

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The closures come as Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for the city. The declaration will allow Bowser to request federal funding to address the crisis as well as prevent price gouging for medical treatments. 

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam also declared a state of emergency on Thursday.

Currently, there are 10 and 17 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the capital and Virginia respectively.  

The Smithsonian noted that it will not set a reopening date at this time, and the cemetery did not mention in its tweets whether or not it has set a date to open the facility back up to the public. 

In addition to both the group of museums and the cemetery, the Kennedy Center and Ford’s Theater have closed down as a result of the spreading disease. Tours of the Capitol  are expected to cease in the near future as well. 

According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 1,300 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S., and more than 30 deaths thus far.