White House Plans to Resume Public Tours on Sept. 12

Exterior view of the White House in Washington, D.C.

The White House plans to reopen for tours later this month at 18 percent of its normal capacity, the office of first lady Melania Trump has announced.

Visitors two years and older will be required to wear a mask or similar face covering. The National Park Service, U.S. Secret Service, and White House Visitors Office staff working the tour will also don masks and gloves while encouraging social distancing among visitors.

Expect to see several hand-sanitizer stations and social distancing markers along the route. Public tours of the White House typically include a peek at the White House Rose Garden, recently redone by Melania Trump, the China Room, home to the formal dishware of former presidents George Washington and Bill Clinton, and the State Dining Room, where formal dinners and meals with visiting heads of state are held.

The White House, which has 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 412 doors, and 28 fireplaces, is among a growing number of Washington, D.C., attractions reopening to visitors since closing due to the coronavirus earlier this year. The Smithsonian's National Zoo, Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden, National Gallery of Art, and International Spy Museum are among the sites that have reopened with capacity restrictions, timed entry, and mask requirements. The U.S. Capitol remains closed for tours.

Washington, D.C., currently requires visitors from several states, including Texas, Florida, California, and Delaware, to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

The White House used to draw an average of 5,000 visitors per day, but under the current restrictions, that number is likely to shrink to fewer than 1,000 per day. Visitors will also have fewer tours to choose from — instead of five days a week, the White House is cutting back tours to two days a week from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Tours of the White House cannot be booked online and must be scheduled through individual congressional representative offices.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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