UPDATE: We are into the second full week of the government shutdown, and the initial impact is starting to spread.
As the year has officially turned to 2019, the Smithsonian institutions and all of its museums, which were able to remain open through December via unused funds, are now closing as a result of the shutdown. This includes the Udvar-Hazy Center, the National Zoo and Smithsonian research centers.
National parks, while they remain partially open, are being impacted by the lack of services being offered. The Washington Post has reported that trash is piling up at some parks as a result of no staff and locked bathrooms and visitors not following recommended policies.
As for federal workers, reports estimate that nearly 380,000 are currently furloughed, while 420,000 are working without immediate pay. Jan. 11 is the date of their next pay check, which would have covered the time the government has been shut down, but they would likely not see that money unless Congress approves a back payment.
Vital services like social security, Medicaid, Medicare, the Postal Service, food stamps, border control, military and air traffic control are still active. Other federal services like the issuing of passports and visas, the IRS and environmental food and drug inspections, however, are closed or are seeing limited operations.
The new congressional session begins on Thursday, Jan. 4.
The federal government shutdown at midnight on Friday, but what exactly does that mean for those who may want to enjoy any of the parks or monuments that we have right at our fingertips in Northern Virginia?
First off, it being the holidays, nearly all the parks are already running on adjusted schedules. However, as related to the shutdown, there is only a minimal impact on what people can enjoy, for now.
- State Parks—State parks and those privately owned are not impacted by the federal shutdown and will remain open on their normal, holiday-adjusted hours. This includes George Washington’s Mount Vernon, George Mason’s Gunston Hall, Old Town Alexandria’s bevy of historical locations and the National Museum of the Marine Corps, as well as others.
- National Parks—A majority of national parks, and all in NoVA, are still open, there just may not be staff on-site and restrooms may not be available. For instance, the Gravelly Point viewing area near Reagan National Airport remains open, but its portable restrooms are currently locked and cannot be used. Also, Great Falls’ visitor center is closed, but hiking trails should be accessible.
- Arts—If you have tickets for performances at either Ford’s Theatre or the Kennedy Center over the holidays, don’t worry, all scheduled performances will continue as planned. Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site will be closed and the Kennedy Center will operate on reduced hours.
Though most will remain open, there still are some closures as a result of the shutdown:
- Park areas that close after dark will be closed at all times.
- The Arlington House (Robert E. Lee Memorial), though it was previously closed for rehabilitation.
- Gated areas of Turkey Run Park
- Smithsonian institutions
For a complete list of what is closed as a result of the shutdown throughout the DMV, refer to the National Park Service.
Side note, as a result of the shutdown, local restaurateur Jose Andres has announced that federal employees can come to any of his restaurants with their families between 2-5 p.m. every day until the government is back in operation to receive a free sandwich. &pizza locations in D.C. and NoVA are also offering federal employees a complimentary pie from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. every day until the shutdown ends.