D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton says the partial reopening of the U.S. Capitol to tourists has been unnecessarily slow.
The Voice of America website on Wednesday reported Capitol officials saying reopening will occur in phases, starting Monday for school groups and other groups of up to 15 people who would be led by lawmakers or their aides. Congressional offices would each be limited to leading one tour weekly, the VOA website said.
Norton pointed out the success of coronavirus vaccinations in lowering the risk of serious illness and death and the security improvements of the Capitol. She noted visitors to the Capitol are an important part of the District’s tourism economy.
“I appreciate the announcement that the Capitol will reopen to a limited number of tours,” the delegate said. “Capitol tours are particularly useful as educational tools, and prior to the pandemic, schools in D.C. and throughout the country wisely took advantage of them often. However, since the Capitol was first closed to the public because of the pandemic, vaccines have proven effective at preventing severe symptoms, hospitalizations, and death.
“America’s symbols of democracy should be accessible to the people we serve,” Norton said. “Already, the distance between government and the people has grown, with trust in government at historic lows. We should not entrench that distance further or longer by delaying the reopening of the Capitol, especially when the tools exist to prevent serious illness and death from COVID-19.”