Emancipation Day 2021: What’s open, what’s closed in DC

D.C. will mark Emancipation Day on Friday, April 16, commemorating an 1862 act signed by Abraham Lincoln which abolished slavery in the District, freeing over 3,000 people eight months before the Emancipation Proclamation.

Several city services will be modified or closed outright. Here’s an idea of what to expect this Friday.

What’s closed

Since Emancipation Day is a legal holiday in D.C., the city’s government and many of the services it provides will be paused. That includes all Department of Motor Vehicle locations.

The District does not require that parking meter fees be paid on holidays, including Emancipation Day. Keep in mind that while ticketing is still suspended for emergency no parking violations and expired parking permits due to the COVID-19 emergency, towing continues and you’ll still be fined for safety violations like blocking a hydrant.

All publicly run COVID-19 testing sites will be closed on Friday, a change from last year’s Emancipation Day.

Meal distribution sites run by D.C. Public Schools and the Department of Parks and Recreation will also be closed on Friday, and deliveries made through the homebound COVID-19 program will be paused.

If you need to file an unemployment insurance claim, you’ll only be able to do that online until Monday, since the city’s employment services call center will be closed. Click here for online options.

With the Department of Public Works suspending sanitation services, household trash and recycling collections that would normally happen on Friday will slide to Saturday, April 17. Residential street sweeping is suspended.

Neighborhood D.C. public libraries will be closed on Friday, but virtual library programs will be available. For more information, visit dclibrary.org or use the library system’s free app.

Most outdoor public spaces, including parks, playgrounds, athletic courts and fields, will be open. DPR recreation, community and aquatic centers will be closed.

What’s open

You’ll still be able to get a vaccine in the District: All COVID-19 vaccination sites will be open Friday, and scheduled appointments will be honored. Anyone 16 or older can register at vaccinate.dc.gov or by calling 855-363-0333.

For residents experiencing homelessness, the Downtown Day Services Center at 1313 New York Avenue NW will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only for essential services including showers, laundry, phones and clothing distribution. Zoe’s Doors at 2001 Mississippi Avenue SE will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Anyone needing emergency shelter can call the DC hotline at 202-399-7093, 24 hours a day.

All U.S. Postal Service, UPS and FedEx locations will be open during their usual hours.

Road and transit changes

DC Circulator will continue on its pandemic-modified service:

  • Operating hours: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. except for the following routes that run until 11 p.m. — Union Station-Georgetown, Rosslyn-Dupont Circle, Woodley Park-Adams Morgan-McPherson Square. The National Mall route runs between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Fares on all routes are suspended. Passengers are asked to board and exit using the rear door, except for riders who need to use the front ramp.

Normal weekday reversible lanes will continue on:

  • Canal Road between Chain Bridge and Foxhall Road
  • Rock Creek Parkway, which is managed by the National Park Service

Rush hour reversible lanes on Connecticut Avenue and 16th Street NW are suspended. All nonemergency work zones on District roads, alleys and sidewalks are also paused.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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