National Mall Closed Around Tidal Basin
Closures Affect Schools, Sports, Restaurants
The novel coronavirus has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. So far, 116 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in D.C. with 2 deaths, 244 cases in Maryland with 3 deaths and 219 cases with 3 deaths in Virginia. Social distancing has been recommended to help control its spread. Many cultural institutions, entertainment venues, schools and sporting events in the DMV are closing to protect both their employees and the public. DC on Heels will update our list of closings and postponements daily as necessary, with the most current updates on top.
March 23 update
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered all nonessential companies in the state to close as of 5 p.m. Monday. The action came as Hogan condemned some Marylanders for engaging in “irresponsible and reckless behavior” by gathering in large crowds in violation of an order limiting groups to 10. He said the closure of additional businesses, including retail stores that had been allowed to remain open, was necessary to “slow the spread” of COVID-19. The order, which takes effect at 5 p.m. today, does not include essential or critical industries as defined by the federal government: health care, law enforcement, emergency workers, food, energy, water, transportation, public works, communications, government, critical manufacturing, financial services, chemicals and defense. Restaurant carryouts, liquor stores and day care centers are among the businesses that can remain open. Big box stores can also remain open.
To deter visitors from visiting the cherry blossoms on Monday and maintain social distancing, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser the has ordered police and the D.C. National Guard to restrict pedestrian traffic around the Tidal Basin including the Jefferson Memorial and National Mall in the area from 14th Street to 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue to Independence Avenue. The closure will remain in effect indefinitely. Police will also close several streets around the Tidal Basin. Closures from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. include Memorial Bridge, Lincoln Memorial Circle, Potomac River Freeways exits to Ohio Drive and Independence Avenue, Rock Creek Parkway/Potomac Parkway Drive between Virginia Avenue and Independence Avenue, Independence Avenue between Ohio Drive and 14th Street SW, 23rd Street between Constitution Avenue and Lincoln Memorial Circle, Henry Bacon Drive between Constitution Avenue and Lincoln Memorial Circle, 17th Street between Constitution Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW, 15th Street between Constitution Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW, Maine Avenue between Independence and 12th Street SW, and all vehicular exits to East Potomac and West Potomac parks.
D.C. reported is second coronavirus-related death on Sunday, a 65-year-old woman with underlying health conditions who died Saturday night. Maryland and Virginia each had their third death from the virus the same day. COVID-19 has claimed seven lives in the DMV.
The District’s first coronavirus was John-Sebastian Laird-Hammond, a Catholic friar at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America. Laird-Hammond, 59, worked at the monastery for decades and also had been treaded for leukemia.
Beginning Tuesday, passengers will only be allowed to board Metrobuses through the rear doors except for people in wheelchairs, according to WMATA. That means riders won’t have to tap their SmarTrip card or pay cash. WMATA hopes that will keep its bus drivers socially-distant from passengers. “Essentially, bus travel will be free during that time,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said. Metro will resuming Sunday bus service, but plans to run only 20 lines again next weekend. Trains will run every 20 minutes, except for every 15 minutes on the Red Line.
Olympic officials said Sunday they are considering postponing the Summer Games set to take place in Tokyo. Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympics Committee, said canceling the games altogether is not an option and vowed that a final decision on postponement would be made within the next four weeks. The Canadian Olympic Committee said it would not send its athletes to compete in Tokyo this summer. Canada is the first country to refuse to participate in these Summer Olympics.
March 22 update
While the number of people visiting the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms is less than normal, officials warned there are too many people to maintain an effective social distance. The Yoshino cherry trees reached peak bloom on Friday – the third earliest on record – bringing large crowds. “We strongly urge anyone considering a visit to see the cherry blossoms to reconsider and to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases,” the National Park Service tweeted on Saturday. The NPS closed parking areas to discourage visitors. A 24-hour live #BloomCam has been set up by the Trust for the National Mall.
WMATA cut bus service on after 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday due to operational challenges and will only operate its 20 most used routes. Only the 165C, 28A, 29K, 29N, 30N, 30S, 54, 70, 83, 90, A6, A8, B2, C4, D12, F4, H4, J2, K6, P12, REX, S4, V4, W4, X2, Y2 and Z8 routes will be in operation. Buses will run every 30 minutes.
The federal income tax filing deadline has been pushed back from April 15 to July 15. All taxpayers who owe less than $1 million and businesses that owe less than $10 million will have the additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties. In Maryland, all taxpayers have received a 90-day extension to July 15 to pay their state income taxes. Virginia extended its tax deadline to June 1 for individuals and businesses. The District has not announced any change.
Arena Stage has suspended all remaining performances of the 2019/20 season. Celia and Fidel, Seven Guitars and Toni Stone has been postponed until the 2020/21 season. Enlightenment, The Change and Crumbs from the Table of Joy have been rescheduled to the 2021/22 Season to accommodate these changes.
Theater J has canceled its production of Becoming Dr. Ruth scheduled for March 27-April 19. Compulsion or the House Behind is still to begin performances on June 5.
March 21 update
On Friday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser extended the prohibition on mass gatherings of 50 people or more through April 25. Public schools will remain closed with distance learning through April 24. Classes are scheduled to resume April 27. The school district canceled assessment testing and opened an additional 10 meal sites. Also, restaurants will not be allowed to reopen for table service until April 25 and can only offer grab-and-go or delivery options.
D.C. reported its first coronavirus-related death on Friday afternoon. The patient was a 59-year-old man who tested positive for COVID-19. The man was admitted to a local hospital last week, “presenting with symptoms of fever and cough as well as other underlying medical conditions.” Maryland reported its second coronavirus-related death. The patient was a Baltimore County man in his 60s with underlying medical conditions.
Metro made more cuts to rail and bus service this weekend to discourage riders from taking its trains and buses to view the cherry blossoms, which are in peak bloom around the Tidal Basin. On Saturday and Sunday, trains will run every 30 minutes on all line from 8 a.m.-11 p.m. The Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery stations are closed until further notice. Buses will run on a Sunday schedule. Rail ridership was down 85% on Thursday.
Citing the escalating coronavirus crisis and overwhelming carryout traffic, Starbucks said late Friday that it will only accept drive-thru and delivery orders at company-operated stores in the U.S. and Canada for at least two weeks. The Seattle-based chain switched to a to-go model on Sunday, but continued to accept orders placed at the register. But, in an open letter to employees, Rossann Williams, executive vice president and president of U.S. company-operated operations, said cafes have been “experiencing high traffic, and we need to do more to prevent the spread of this virus.” The chain said some cafes situated near hospitals and healthcare centers will remain open as it is “especially important to serve thousands of frontline responders and health care workers,” Williams said. Starbucks will pay U.S. partners for the next 30 days even if they choose to stay home, she said.
The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration closed all branch locations across the state at 4:30 p.m. Friday. They will remain closed indefinitely.
March 20 update
All undergraduate courses at the University System of Maryland including the University of Maryland, College Park and Bowie State University will be online for the remainder of the semester, according to chancellor Jay A. Perman. Students will be told when they can retrieve their belongings from dorms. Also, room and board fees will be refunded on a prorated basis. And in-person commencement ceremonies have been canceled. Universities have been told “to be creative in how they celebrate their graduates.”
Metro announced Thursday it will close the Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery stations, effective 5 p.m., to discourage the use of Metrorail for recreational visits to view the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin. The two stations will remain closed until further notice.
The D.C. Council passed an emergency bill this week that allows restaurants and bars to offer alcohol with food deliveries and take-out. Restaurants and bars can now offer closed containers of beer, wine and liquor to-go as long as the drinks are accompanied by at least one prepared food item. In addition to bottles and cans, businesses can offer growlers and crowlers of beer and wine. There is no maximum for how much alcohol can be sold. Deliveries and carryout are allowed from 7 a.m.-midnight. Delivery is only allowed within the District’s borders. Businesses must register with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration first.
March 19 update
Maryland reported its first COVID-19 death on Wednesday. The Prince George’s County man was in his 60s and suffered from an underlying medical condition.
Beginning Thursday, all rush hour parking restrictions in the District are suspended and reversible rush hour lanes on Connecticut Avenue and 16th Street will cease. Also, residential street sweeping is suspended. Alexandria suspended parking restrictions for residential street sweeping as well 72-hour limits for street parking. Montgomery County has established no parking zones in areas with high concentrations of restaurants to prevent long-term parking and allow for greater curbside access for businesses providing takeout while dine-in service is suspended. Arlington County also designated free short-term curbside parking spaces outside businesses offering food for pick-up end enforcement of residential parking permits has been suspended.
The D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday closed the marriage bureau. The closure comes after a U.S. Marshal working at the courthouse tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. No marriage licenses will be issued until further notice.
The D.C. Circulator buses have suspended fares. Riders can now board from all doors to allow for social distancing. Also, the National Mall route has been suspended. All other routes are running on a regular schedule.
Grocery stores around the DMV are adjusting their hours to allow time for the elderly adults to shop alone and avoid the spread of coronavirus. Whole Foods stores will serve only customers 60 or older from 7-8 a.m., except at the stores on Wilson Boulevard and in Old Town, which will be open from 6-7 a.m. Giant Foods will reserve 6-7 a.m. for shoppers 60 and older or those with compromised immune systems. Albertsons Companies, which owns Safeway, said all 2,200 of its stores would be open from 7-9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for senior citizens and at-risk populations, including pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems. However, the Safeway website did not reflect this.
Simon Property Group, which manages several malls in the DMV, said its shopping centers would close at 7 p.m. Wednesday and remain closed until March 29. Locally, the closings affect Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, Potomac Mills Mall, Arundel Mills, St. Charles Town Centre, Leesburg Premium Outlets as well as outlet centers in Clarksburg, Hagerstown and Queenstown.
More universities have canceled graduation ceremonies. Howard University announced on Monday it would cancel its commencement ceremony. Now, Georgetown University announced it will postpone its graduation while George Washington University said it would not hold commencement in person, but look for a digital alternative instead.
March 18 update
Metro announced further cutbacks in an attempt to limit trips to essential travel only. As of today, Metro will be open 5 a.m.-11 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m.-11 p.m. weekends. Trains will run every 15 minutes on all lines, and all of them will be 8-cars in length, to enable passengers to distance themselves from each other. Except for emergencies, track work is canceled. Buses will run on a Sunday schedule, with some lines supplemented to ensure passengers are not crowded. Bus drivers will be allowed to pass stops if they are concerned about social distancing between riders. Fares will not decrease.
Gov. Larry Hogan postponed Maryland’s April 28 primary election until June 2 to give the state Board of Elections time to figure out how to keep polling judges and staff safe during the election. The state’s 7th Congressional District General Election for the late Rep. Elijah Cummings’ seat will still take place on April 28, but will be by mail-in only ballot.
Hogan also postponed the May 16 Preakness Stakes Horse Race until September. The change came after the Kentucky Derby, which was supposed to happen on May 2, was postponed until Labor Day Weekend for the first time in 75 years.
Hogan is also closing all Motor Vehicle Administration offices and canceling non-commercial driver’s license tests. The governor, who is also president of the National Association of Governors, is also asking the federal government to postpone the deadline for states to become compliant with the Real ID licenses.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered restaurants, movie theaters and fitness centers to allow no more than 10 people at one time. He said the Virginia Employment Commission would waive the one-week waiting period so that people who file for unemployment can start receiving benefits right away.
The D.C. Council on Tuesday unanimously passed an emergency bill to expand eligibility for unemployment insurance and providing financial assistance for businesses hurt during the coronavirus crisis. The bill lets hotels defer payment of property taxes and other businesses delay payment of sales taxes and creates a grant program Mayor Muriel Bowser can use to help small businesses, independent contractors and self-employed residents who wouldn’t be eligible for unemployment .It also prohibits price-gouging and stockpiling during the state of emergency, stops evictions and utility cut-offs, forbids landlords from charging late fees on rent payments, extends public benefits programs, allows the Council to meet and vote virtually, and extends the deadline for Bowser to submit the 2021 budget from mid-March to early May.
Police and prosecutors in D.C. have been given more flexibility to decide whether to issue a citation to someone accused of a minor crime instead of detaining them, and the city’s Department of Corrections is expected to gain power to release more people from jail early.
The National Park Service said programs and operations that don’t meet the latest coronavirus guidance may be canceled or closed. Park superintendents “are empowered to modify their operations, including closing facilities and canceling programs, to address the spread of the coronavirus,” Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said Tuesday. Outdoor spaces may remain open if it is possible to adhere to recommendations to address the spread of COVID 19. Several DMV NPS sites have already closed, including the Washington Monument, the Old Post Office Tower and Ford’s Theater National Historic Site.
March 17 update
Major League Baseball announced that the start of the 2020 season will be pushed back at least eight weeks following the CDC’s current guidance to limit public gatherings of more than 50 people. Opening day had already been postponed two weeks.
Loudon County Public Schools will remain closed until at least April 10 – three weeks longer than originally planned. Superintendent Eric Williams said in a letter that it is likely schools will remain closed “an additional six to 12 weeks from now or longer.” The school district will buy 15,000 Chromebooks for students in grades 3-12 who do not already have a laptop issued by the district, Williams said. Families may be able to pick up the devices as early as next week.
Virginia power and water companies cannot suspend service during the state of emergency due to the coronavirus. The State Corporation Commission of Virginia has blocked electric, gas and water companies from disconnecting customers for non-payment over the next two months, following a plea for temporary clemency by state Attorney General Mark Herring. The move, which lasts for 60 days beginning March 16, comes as companies and federal guidance are urging people to stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak. Late fees will also be halted as long as Virginia is in a state of emergency.
March 16 update
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered all restaurants and taverns, movie theaters, health clubs, spas and massage parlors in the city to close from 10 p.m. Monday through 6 a.m. April 1. Restaurants may continue to offer delivery or take-out. The measures followed a weekend that saw bars and restaurants in the city packed with patrons, despite warnings from health officials to practice social distancing.
Following a weekend of people crowding bars and restaurants to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Gov. Larry Hogan ordered all restaurants, bars, gyms and movie theaters closed as of 5 p.m. Monday. Restaurants with drive-thrus will be able to serve food through them for takeout. Hogan also signed an order prohibiting gatherings of 50 or more people. And, the governor said evictions will be banned during the crisis and utility shutoffs due to non-payment are on hold.
The White House has canceled this year’s Easter egg roll scheduled for April 13.
Howard University has canceled its commencement ceremony, the university announced Monday morning. Commencement was scheduled for May 9. It also announced that online classes will continue through the end of the spring semester and residence hall will closed on March 22.
The Office of Personnel Management has told federal government agencies in the DMV “to offer maximum telework flexibilities” to all eligible employees. “In light of the evolving situation concerning the coronavirus (‘COVID-19’) and the National Capitol Region (NCR) experiencing community transmission, the Administration wants to ensure that department and agency leaders assertively safeguard the health and safety of their workforce while remaining open to serve the American people and conduct mission critical functions,” wrote Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Russell T. Vought in a memo. For employees not eligible for telework, OPM has given agency leaders discretion to offer weather and safety leave.
D.C. Superior Court said people with grand jury duty beginning March 16 do not need to report. Also, new jury trials have been deferred until at least March 30. The court will only hear emergency matters in the civil, family court, probate and tax divisions and auditor master. Also, all evictions including those involving foreclosed homeowners are stayed, and all stay away orders and protection orders in domestic violence cases are extended until May 1.
The Edlavitch D.C. Jewish Community Center will be closed staring March 16 and plans to reopen on April 1. Preschool and the fitness center are closed, the Theater J production of Becoming Dr. Ruth will be postponed until April 1 and all JxJ movie screenings are canceled until April 1.
March 15 update
Under new guidelines announced by the District on Sunday, bars and restaurants will have to comply with the existing ban on gatherings of 250 people or more. They also must suspend the use of bar seating, will not be allowed to serve drinks to anyone who is standing, limit table seating to six people or fewer and ensure that tables and booths are at least six feet away from each other. Nightclubs and multi-purpose facilities must close during the ongoing state of emergency.
José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup announced Sunday that it will close all of its restaurants in the DMV in response to the conronavirus pandemic. Most of the restaurants, including Oyamel, Zaytinya, America Eats Tavern and three area Jaleo locations, will be converted into community kitchens, according to a release from the company, that will offer “affordable plates of the day” for takeout from noon-5 p.m. beginning March 17. Restaurant employees will receive paid leave and health benefits “for at least the first two weeks,” according to the release. Beefsteak remains in operation with delivery only, and the D.C. food truck Pepe will remain in operation as usual. Minibar and China Chilcano will be closed.
Maryland’s casinos, racetracks and betting facilities have been ordered closed by Gov. Larry Hogan beginning March 16. The order will affect the MGM National Harbor, Live! Casino & Hotel, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and Laurel Park in the DMV. The order does not affect hotels adjacent to the casinos.
Prince George’s County Memorial Library System will be closed until further notice. Fines are waived if incurred during the closure. The county’s Department of Parks and Recreation has closed all facilities and canceled events and programs starting March 16.
All AMC Theatres and Regal Theaters including those in the DMV are capping theater capacity at 50%. In addition, AMC said auditoriums with more than 500 seats will be capped at 250 people. AMC said it will continue through April 30.
Several grocery stores in the area have announced they will close early each night for cleaning and restocking. Wegmans stores in Virginia will be open from 6 a.m.-11 p.m., while stores in Maryland are open from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. All Harris Teeter locations will close at 9 p.m. beginning Sunday. Also beginning Sunday, all Walmart stores and neighborhood markets will be open from 6 a.m.-11 p.m. until further notice.
March 14 update
Metro announced on Friday it is implementing Phase 3 of its Pandemic Flu Plan. Metro trains will operate every 12 minutes (a Saturday schedule) weekdays while maintaining normal hours opening at 5 a.m. Saturday trains will run every 12 minutes from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. and Sunday trains will operate every 15 minutes from 8 a.m.-11 p.m. On weekdays, buses will run on a Saturday schedule. Weekday-only buses will be canceled. Weekend bus schedules remain the same.
The Washington Monument has shut down elevator tours. A reopening date has not been announced. People may still visit the grounds and other sites on the National Mall.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival announced Friday that in addition to the kite festival, Pink Tie Party and opening ceremony at the Warner Theatre that were already canceled, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade scheduled for April 4 and Petalpalooza festival outdoor festival at Yards Park on April 11 have also been canceled. Organizers said the Sakura Matsuri Japanese street festival set for April 4 has been postponed to an undetermined date and the Anacostia River Festival, scheduled for April 5, will be held on Aug. 9.
Gov. Ralph Northam ordered all Virginia pubic schools close from March 16-27.
Arlington County Public Schools, Alexandria City Public Schools and Falls Church City Public Schools are closing for nearly a month. The schools will be closed from March 16 through spring break and will not reopen until April 14. The schools say they are developing plans to continue feeding students during the closures, but have not released details.
Studio Theater will suspend performances of Pass Over and close the theater to the public from March 16-31. This weekend’s shows will continue. The box office will be open from noon-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday to respond to customer calls and email.
The Shakespeare Theatre Company has suspended all programing through April 19. The Amen Corner and Timon of Athens have closed. Romantics Anonymous will started a limited three-week run on April 21.
Mosaic Theatre Company has canceled all performances until April. The current production of Inherit the Windbag, which was set to open Thursday and run through March 29, will be pushed back into April.
The Atlas Performing Arts Center will be closed through March 31. In addition to the Mosaic Theatre Company, the closure will affect the ExPats Theatre’s Einstein’s Wife and a jazz concert by Ghost-Note scheduled for March 28.
Ford’s Theater has cancelled performances and programming from March 15 through April 5. That includes its current show, Guys and Dolls along with History on Foot tours and guided tours along with the Abraham Lincoln Institute Symposium, which was scheduled for March 21. The historic site will remain open for visits.
Arena Stage will be closed March 16-30. All public performances and events are canceled. The current production of Celia and Fidel will be resume on March 31 and continue through April 12.
Signature Theatre has canceled all performance and events through March 30 including remaining performances of Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes. The opening of Camille Claudel has been delayed a week until March 31.
Capitol One Arena is closed until at least April 1. The NHL and NBA already postponed their seasons (see below) and any concerts scheduled through April 1 has been postponed including Nick Canon presents Wild ‘N Out Live Tour 202 on March 13, Billie Elish on March 18 and the Harlem Globetrotters on March 21.
The U.S. Supreme Court building is closed to the public until further notice.
March 13 update
On Thursday, the Smithsonian Institution announced that all of its museums in Washington, D.C. and New York City, including the National Zoo, would close to the public beginning Saturday, March 14 as a precaution due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19. A reopening date was not announced, but will be evaluated on week-to-week basis.
The National Gallery of Art which is not part of the Smithsonian, will also close beginning on March 14 and will tentatively reopen on April 4.
Also, the National Museum of Women in the Arts will be closed from March 14-31. Programs and events scheduled through April 5 will be postponed or canceled.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced it has suspended performances and public events through at least March 31. Its campus and facilities will be closed to the public, but administrative staff will be on-site to continue basic operations. Ticket holders for performances scheduled to take place the rest of March can exchange tickets for a future date or another show, donate tickets and receive a tax deduction for the full value, exchange tickets for a gift certificate to the Kennedy Center or receive a full refund for the ticket’s value and fees.
In D.C., Maryland and parts of Virginia, public schools are closed through at least Apr. 1.
D.C. Public Schools officials moved up a week-long spring break scheduled for April to March 16-23. Then from March 24-31, student will participate in distance learning. The mayor also advised charter schools to close and reopen on April 1. Weekdays from March 16-31, 11 schools will be open between 10 a.m.-2 p.m. to serve free lunch to students. Free meal locations include Anacostia High School, Banneker High School, Cardozo Education Campus, Columbia Heights Education Campus, Coolidge High School, Jefferson Middle School, Eastern High School, Ballou High School, McKinley Education Campus, Brookland Middle School and Woodson High School.
All Maryland public schools will be closed from March 16-27 under state order.
In Norther Virginia, Loudoun County Public Schools canceled classes until March 20. The district will provide free breakfast and lunch every day schools are closed. Meals will be served from 8 a.m.-1 pm. and be distributed outside school buildings.
All universities in the District have moved online. In addition to American, George Mason, Georgetown, George Washington and Howard Universities listed below, Gallaudet University will conduct all classes online following spring break beginning March 23 through the end of the semester on May 4. Catholic University has canceled classes on March 16 and 17, then will teach online classes through at least March 30. The University of the District of Columbia has extended spring break through March 14 then will shift to online classes or alternate teaching methods through April 6. The university library will remain open and campus laboratories will open on limited schedules. Trinity University has also canceled classes on March 16 and 17 then will move online from March 18-31.
All D.C. Public Library branches will close beginning March 16 and reopen on Apr. 1.
The Library of Congress has joined the U.S. Capitol in closing to the public. The Library of Congress has closed all of its buildings to the public through April 1, but online services are still available.
The White House has suspended tours.
Arlington National Cemetery has closed to the public until further notice. Only family pass holders will be able to visit from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Funerals will be conducted as scheduled, but there are new arrival procedures and families should remain in their cars in the queueing lanes.
Major League Baseball canceled the remainder of spring training games and delayed the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks. Opening day was scheduled for March 26. The Washington Nationals, who’s opener was set for April 2 against the N.Y. Mets, will stay in West Palm Beach, Fla., and continue to practice at FITTEAM of the Palm Beaches.
The National Hockey League suspended its 2019-2020. Games will resume “as soon as it is appropriate and prudent,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
Major League Soccer suspended all games for 30 days on March 12. The league also suspended training, saying players should remain in the area and may workout independently if they choose.
National Cherry Blossom Festival cancels kite festival, other events
A day earlier, the National Cherry Blossom Festival announced it is canceling its annual kite festival and opening ceremony at the Warner Theatre, and postponing its Pink Tie Party due to the coronavirus outbreak. The festival is set to run from March 20-April 12.
Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, the National Park Service moved up its prediction for peak bloom to occur between March 21-24, a week earlier than the original prediction. The Park Service attributed the shift to significantly warmer-than-expected temperatures and continued heat over the next few weeks. The Yoshino cherry trees reached the third stage of blooming — the extension of florets — on Monday, according to the Bloom Watch tracker.
“It is a difficult decision and one that we do not take lightly,” said Diana Mayhew, president and CEO of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. “The health and safety of the performers, guests, volunteers and festival staff is our priority. We have been working closely with the city government, WHO and CDC as well as our partners to determine the best course of action. As such, the team is continually assessing the situation and looking at ways to reimagine certain events, such as the opening ceremony.”
The D.C. Department of Health on Wednesday recommended that non-essential mass gatherings, including conferences and conventions, be postponed or cancelled. Mass gatherings are defined as events where 1,000 or more people congregate in a specific location. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency. So far, the city has 10 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of 5:45 p.m. Wednesday.
The DOH also recommend that any social, cultural or entertainment events where large crowds are anticipated be reconsidered by the organizer. The recommendation is in effect through Mar. 31.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival said the Pink Tie Party scheduled for Mar. 20 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center is postponed. Festival organizers are looking at future dates to reschedule. However, the silent auction fundraiser will still take place online.
The opening ceremony set for March 21 has been canceled. Organizers are looking at options including live streaming the event.
The Blossom Kite Festival on Mar. 28 on the grounds of the Washington Monument was also canceled.
Organizers also said the Tidal Basin welcome area in the Tidal Basin parking lot, which includes visitor services, food aid, food concessions, souvenirs and entertainment, would not be set up this year.
The U.S. Capitol is closed to the public through April. That includes the House and Senate office buildings along with the Capitol Visitor Center. Only lawmakers, staff, journalists and visitors with official business will be permitted to enter the buildings. The closure begins at 5 p.m. Thursday, and the building will reopen Apr. 1.
IMP Concerts, which runs music shows and events at the 9:30 Club, Lincoln Theatre, The Anthem and U Street Music Hall, has announced that it is postponing all events until Apr. 1. IMP said it is canceling all shows, regardless of size, “to be cautious.” Anyone with tickets to a March show after March 11 will be notified of a new date for the show. They will be able to request a similarly-priced ticket to another show or a refund if they can’t make the new date.
Events DC, the city’s quasi-public convention and sports authority, will “suspend operations and services” starting at the close of business on Friday. The organization has cancelled all events at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, The Entertainment and Sports Arena, D.C. Armory and the R.I.S.E Demonstration Center will be deep cleaned during that time and plan to reopen on Apr. 1. The move comes after five attendees at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, which was held at the convention center March 1-3.
D.C.’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which had been scheduled for March 15, was postponed until a date to be determined. The city joined Boston, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia in canceling its parade.
The D.C. Environmental Film Festival, which was schedule for March 12-22, has been canceled. A virtual festival will be held next week instead, screening a selection of 2020 films online. A smaller version of the festival will also be held in the fall.
Episcopal churches in the Washington area including the Washington National Cathedral are closed for two weeks. All 88 church buildings in Maryland and D.C. will be closed to the public. In the Virginia diocese, 179 churches will also be closed until March 25. The Washington diocese will stream its services on Sundays.
Classes go online
American University, George Mason University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University and the University of Maryland are moving their classes online in response to coronavirus. American extended spring break through March 17 and will go all online through the end of the semester. Georgetown, which was set to return from spring break this coming Monday, said it is suspending all classes on campus until further notice and will instead conduct them online. George Mason extended spring break through March 20 and will conduct most classes online through Apr. 3. GW also announced that after spring break it will move classes online for at least two weeks until Apr.5. Howard will move classes online from March 23-Apr. 6 following spring break. UMD has canceled classes until March 30. Instruction will resume online March 30 and continue until Apr. 10.
The NCAA will prohibit fans from attending men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The playoffs will go on, but with out spectators except family and staff.
The NBA has suspended play indefinitely after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gober tested positive for coronavirus.
If your event is canceled or postponed, or you know of one that is, let us know at dcoheditor(at)gmail(dot)com.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.