Smithsonian's National Zoo reopening today
WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - The Smithsonian will reopen two of its facilities to the public this week after being closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Zoo in D.C. and the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, will open to the public Friday, July 24.
These facilities will be implementing new health and safety measures as visitors are welcomed back, according to a statement by the organization.
All other Smithsonian museums remain temporarily closed to the public.
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“As a public entity, we thrive on serving our visitors and making our collections readily available to them, virtually and in person,” said Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian. “However, the safety and well-being of our staff, visitors and volunteers come first and are paramount, so we are taking a deliberate, phased and cautious approach to reopening. Our goal is to be safe and measured in order to adjust and pivot as necessary.”
The National Zoo will be open 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily. The Udvar-Hazy Center will be open 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. daily.
A sea lion swims in its enclosure as people reach out while visiting at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC, on August 22, 2019. (Photo by Alastair Pike / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP via Getty Images)
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The Smithsonian said new safety measures based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other sources will include:
- Requesting that all visitors who are sick or do not feel well stay home.
- Requiring that visitors ages six and older wear face coverings during their visit—inside the Udvar-Hazy Center and Zoo buildings as well as in Zoo outdoor spaces. Face coverings are also strongly recommended for visitors between the ages of two and six, per CDC guidelines.
- Limiting the number of people in each facility by requiring all visitors to obtain a free, timed-entry pass in advance of their visit. Visitors can reserve passes online or by phone and select the desired date and time for their visit. The Smithsonian will release 5,000 timed passes per day for the Zoo and about 1,500 passes per day for the Udvar-Hazy Center.
- Implementing safe social distancing, including some one-way paths and directional guidance where appropriate.
- Providing hand-sanitizing stations for visitors and conducting enhanced cleaning throughout both facilities.
- Restrooms will be open. Outdoor concessions and retail kiosks will be open at the Zoo. Indoor concessions and retail will not be open at the Udvar-Hazy Center, but food trucks will be on-site, pending availability.
- All on-site public tours and events are temporarily suspended. Some exhibits, interactives, rides, demonstrations, theaters or indoor spaces may be closed or operate at limited capacity, including some indoor spaces and artifacts unavailable at the Udvar-Hazy Center due to a previously planned roof-reconstruction project.