Vital services remain open in DC on Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day is typically a day off for all D.C. students and government employees, but the coronavirus pandemic has kept food, shelter and unemployment services open on the annual holiday.

The city announced its Department of Human Services will be closed to celebrate President Abraham Lincoln’s order to free all slaves, which was originally signed on April 16, 1862.

D.C.’s Department of Transportation will postpone nonemergency construction and work zones in roads, alleys and sidewalks until Friday.

The District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is also not permitting normal construction on local government holidays. Violations against this could result in a Stop Work Order and fines, though construction with an after hours work permit is allowed.

Trash and recycling collection schedules will be pushed back to Friday for some neighborhoods and Saturday for others in observance of Emancipation Day.

All DMV locations, parks and recreation centers and libraries in D.C. will continue to be closed for the duration of the pandemic.


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Many of the District’s facilities will remain open to help residents navigate the challenges of COVID-19.

That includes all coronavirus testing sites, the emergency operations center focusing on the COVID-19 response, school meal sites and grocery distribution locations. 

Unemployment services will also be open for D.C. residents. Anyone with unemployment-related questions are advised to call 202-724-7000 or file an unemployment insurance claim online.

Low-barrier emergency shelters (shelters that don’t require visitors to be sober or pass a drug test before being accepted) will stay open as well. Families that are in need of homeless services should call D.C.’s shelter hotline at 202-399-7093 or 311 at any time.

Men’s emergency shelters:

  • New York Avenue Shelter at 1355 New York Avenue NE
  • 801 East Shelter at 801 Making Life Better Lane SE
  • Adams Place Emergency Shelter at 2210 Adams Place NE

Women’s emergency shelters:

  • Saint Josephine Bakhita at 6010 Georgia Avenue NW (Opens at 7 p.m.)
  • Harriet Tubman at 1900 Massachusetts Avenue SE Building #2
  • Patricia Handy Place for Women at 810 5th Street NW

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