WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Zoo will reopen to the public later this week, with restrictions to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Smithsonian, which runs the zoo, announced Monday that the zoo will reopen with limited hours starting Friday, July 24. The National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington Dulles International Airport also will reopen, but the rest of the museums in the Smithsonian network will remain closed.
“The reopening of these first two facilities will provide an opportunity to improve new processes and learn from the visitor experience, with the goal of opening additional museums in the following months,” a Smithsonian statement said.
In order to prevent crowding, all visitors will be required to obtain a free, timed-entry pass in advance. 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.
The zoo will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and all visitors over age 6 will be required to wear a face mask at all times, including outdoors. Children between the ages of 2 and 6 are encouraged, but not required to wear masks. Restrooms will be open and outdoor concessions and retail kiosks will be open at the zoo.
“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,” Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch said in the statement. “Our goal is to be safe and measured in order to adjust and pivot as necessary.”