WASHINGTON — Visitors are no longer required to wear masks inside Smithsonian museums or at the National Zoo.
The Smithsonian also said that they will gradually transition into having museums open more frequently. While many Smithsonian institutions, (SI) including the Zoo, had to reduce operating hours in January due to staff shortages as omicron spread, the National Zoo and the National Museum of Natural History will reopen seven days a week starting Monday, March 14.
The rest of the SI buildings will continue to operate on modified schedules, Smithsonian officials said.
Although masks are no longer required indoors, the Smithsonian said that visitors can still wear them if they choose.
The CDC updated their mask guidelines and created a system where people can check the community level of COVID-19 in their county. This is provided as a resource for areas to know what precautions need to be taken for the virus.
Many localities within the DMV have also changed their COVID-19 guidelines and have given updates to mask mandates to reflect the CDC changes.
Smithsonian museums are also no longer requiring proof of vaccination upon entrance. And, visitors do not need to schedule a reserved time.
Scientists, like Chief Scientist for the Natural History Museum, Dr. Rebecca Johnson, are excited to finally be back in the labs.
"We are so excited," Dr. Johnson said. "It's really special to have the public come in, learn about the natural world, learn about the impact of humans on the world, and of course see their favorite object."
There are also many new and updated exhibits for visitors to check out, including the Fossil Hall.
It opened in June 2019 after undergoing a 5-year renovation--right in time for the pandemic to shut down museums.
Now, visitors can see that and other exhibits daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.