After being shut down for six months due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Washington Monument reopened to the public Thursday morning with a handful of eager visitors waiting in line, ready to head to the top of the landmark.
“I thought this would be a great opportunity,” said Matt Mehlhaff, from Bethesda, Maryland. He took his two children along, who are 7 and 4.
His family did not care for virtual learning, so they have taken education into their own hands during the pandemic.
“I took them out of school, so we are kind of inventing our curriculum as we go, and I thought this would be a good activity,” Mehlhaff said.
Tickets to tour the monument are available online only to limit lines of people who want to purchase tickets.
Face coverings are required, and elevator capacity is limited — four to eight at a time, as opposed to the usual 15 to 18. The monument will be closed from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. each day for cleaning and disinfecting.
There will be a 10-minute time limit on the observation deck, and touchless hand sanitizers have been added throughout.
“We’ve been inside restaurants, and I don’t see this being much different than that,” Mehlhaff said. “I’m comfortable with it.”
New hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Tickets will be available daily at 10 a.m. for the next day’s visits. Each ticket is good for up to four people in a group traveling together.
“It is a little bit of a return to normalcy,” said National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst. “I think we’re starting to see a little bit more of that around town.”
If the public health situation around town worsens, Litterst said, things will change.
“We would be prepared to close it again,” he said.