The Biden-Harris administration is shutting down the southwest end of the National Mall around the Tidal Basin during two-week peak cherry blossom time to prevent the public from walking around in fresh air and sunshine to view the annual event in person over fears of COVID-19. Open air memorials to Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King and Franklin Roosevelt located near the Tidal Basin will be closed to keep people from sneaking a peak at the cherry blossoms.
The National Park Service made the announcement Tuesday morning. What the NPS calls “limit” is a ban on vehicular and pedestrian traffic:
Washington – In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and DC Health and in consultation with the National Park Service Office of Public Health, the National Park Service will limit all vehicular and pedestrian access to the Tidal Basin, East Potomac Park and West Potomac Park during the peak bloom period of the cherry blossoms as a public health precaution to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The start and end dates of any restrictions are dependent on the bloom cycle of the trees, but are currently projected to fall between approximately March 26 and April 12. Updates will be posted on nps.gov/cherry and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @NationalMallNPS. Closed roads and areas will include:
Ohio Drive SW, from Buckeye Drive SW (Washington Channel side) to Independence Avenue SW
East Basin Drive SW east of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial to Ohio Drive SW
West Basin Drive SW from Ohio Drive SW to Independence Avenue SW
Tidal Basin walking trail
Northbound I-395 ramp to Potomac Park (Exit 2)
Southbound I-395 ramp to Potomac Park (Exit 2)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Tidal Basin paddle boats
All curbside parking and parking lots within the closure
The public is reminded that cherry blossom trees can be viewed at sites and parks throughout Washington, DC and are encouraged to virtually experience the trees at the Tidal Basin this year through a variety of online opportunities.
Virtual visitors will be able to view the blossoms through the Trust for the National Mall’s BloomCam, a 24/7, live, real-time look at the Tidal Basin that allows people from around the world to virtually view the beloved blossoming cherry trees in real time. BloomCam will be streaming live starting March 24 on both the National Cherry Blossom Festival and Trust for the National Mall websites providing live, around-the-clock views of the cherry trees along the Tidal Basin. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/bloom-watchwww.nationalmall.org/bloomcam
The National Park Service’s cherry blossom website provides a wealth of virtual peak bloom experiences, including online “Bloomin’ Junior Ranger” activities (complete with a virtual Junior Ranger badge), virtual tours of the Tidal Basin, trivia, games and even a special virtual cherry blossom stamp for the Passport to Your National Parks. www.nps.gov/cherry
The National Cherry Bloom Festival has reimagined the festival with an innovative format that honors the tradition of the festival, while prioritizing the health and safety of participants amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Popular traditional events such as the opening ceremony, Pink Tie Party, Blossom Kite Festival have been designed for a virtual format, and are joined by new favorites, including the Petal Porch Parade, online gallery groups discussing Japanese art, a nationally televised National Cherry Blossom Festival Celebration Show and much more.www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org
Maybe next year, America, if you’re really good, the Biden-Harris administration will let you walk around in fresh and sunshine again to view the cherry blossoms.