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Some DC museums welcome back limited crowds this weekend

Following Mayor Muriel Bowser's announcement ending a "holiday pause" in Phase Two activities, museums will reopen this weekend with limited crowds.

WASHINGTON — Museums around the District will be allowed to reopen with limited capacity this weekend after Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the end of a "holiday pause" of Phase Two activities.

Beginning on Dec. 23, museums were forced to close their doors through Jan.15, while indoor dining was also stopped in the district. The mayor then extended the closures another week earlier this month to deter crowds of tourists from forming at museums and restaurants around Inauguration Day.

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Under the plan, museums will be allowed to host up to 250 people per floor inside their facilities. Guided tours will not be allowed to occur.

Following its closure just before Christmas, the International Spy Museum will be reopening on Saturday morning. On Friday, spokesperson Aliza Bran said that the reopening would come with plenty of precautions.

"There will be limited capacity, linear flow, styluses, and intensive cleaning procedures," she said. 

Like many other businesses and industries, museums in the District have had to navigate through all sorts of challenges over the past year.

Several Phase 2 activities will be paused until 5 a.m. Jan. 22. WASHINGTON - D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has extended the pause on certain Phase 2 activities, such as indoor dining, until Jan. 22 due to "public health and safety" concerns, according to Executive Order 2021-004 issued Monday evening.

For the Spy Museum, the first closure came in mid-March and lasted until mid-June. Since then, crowds have been limited while staff have tried finding new ways to reach audiences.

"We throw virtual birthday parties. We do virtual cocktail parties," Bran said. "Anything that you would normally do in person, we try to create that experience in an engaging manner from the comfort and safety of one's home.” 

Bran said that the museum's donor base had expanded during the pandemic, but a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) also helped provide needed assistance during the spread of coronavirus.

"We rely on private event funding, on ticket sales. That’s really been difficult to make this year," she said. "Different sources have really allowed us to keep this ship going. We’ve had a lot of folks recognize that we’re a nonprofit and we’re not affiliated with the government and they want to keep us around.” 

Not all museums will be rushing to open their doors this weekend. The National Guard Memorial Museum, for one, chose to stay closed after shutting its doors in March.

RELATED: Approximately 150 National Guard members deployed to DC test positive for COVID-19

"The building is closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic," wrote Director of Communications John Goheen in a statement. "It is normally open to the public without an admissions fee. We hope to reopen at some point this year to help share all 385 years of the National Guard story. "

Following the mayor's announcement ending the "holiday pause," restaurants will be allowed to offer indoor dining with 25% capacity.

Individual reservations for swimming and fitness rooms will also resume for indoor operations at Department of Parks and Recreation facilities.

The DC Circulator National Mall route will remain suspended while public libraries must continue only offering pickup and drop-off services.

Moving forward, Bran said the Spy Museum was looking forward to this weekend and welcoming back crowds.

"It’s been a hard year for any museum," she said. "There really isn’t a substitute for being able to walk into a space and be surrounded by the largest collection of espionage artifacts ever put on public display.”

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