Republicans prepare to reopen the House gallery to the public – JP
After nearly three years of pandemic- and insurrection-related security restrictions, tourists next week will be allowed into the House gallery, and unescorted visitors on official business will be able to enter House office buildings.
The changes will take place as Republicans, some of whom have vocally fought against COVID-19 restrictions, are sworn into a majority of House seats in the 118th Congress.
The House gallery will open to the public at the conclusion of the opening session Tuesday, according to a letter sent to members Friday from House Sergeant-at-Arms William J. Walker. Passes obtained from members’ offices will be required, and visitors will be subject to security screening before entering, just as they were prior to the pandemic.
Tours of the Capitol complex were suspended on March 11, 2020, to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but they gradually resumed with numerous restrictions, including size limits. Many of those restrictions now will be lifted, and Saturday tours will resume. An estimated 3-5 million people from around the world visit the Capitol Hill campus each year, and spring is a busy season for school groups, advocacy organizations and tourists to visit.
After House office buildings reopen to the public, staff members will no longer be required to escort guests. But staff will be required to accompany guests visiting the Capitol, as they were before the pandemic.