WASHINGTON — The National Mall is slowly opening up to more activities with the National Park Service issuing more permits for events and demonstrations, the department announced Wednesday.
To combat the spread of coronavirus, NPS temporarily suspended accepting new permits for Mall activities for the last 13 weeks. That suspension is now expired, meaning NPS is able to accept more permit applications for those interested in certain events.
Those events include photography and filming, as well as demonstrations and certain special events. Organized sports are still prohibited, meaning recreational leagues like DC Fray aren't allowed to resume games just yet.
The Division of Permits Management office for the Mall said they usually manage more than 4,000 activities each year. Other larger-scale events, like President Trump's Salute to America celebration on July 4 are slated to occupy the Mall later this summer.
More events are expected to be allowed in July, as NPS continues to work with moving into DC's reopening phases.
Thousands of demonstrators have gathered along the National Mall for the last couple of weeks as protests against police violence -- coupled with the anniversary of Juneteenth -- ramped up around the District. But permits would allow NPS to better manage events and better safety, says Jeff Reinbold, the superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks.
"For more than three months, the National Park Service has not permitted events on the National Mall," Reinbold said. "Despite COVID-19 restrictions, large First Amendment activities and demonstrations are occurring with increasing frequency and size."
"By resuming the issuing of permits for events, we are better able to provide for the health and safety of participants and ensure all groups have the opportunity to assemble and be heard," he continued.
Those who wish to organize for special events on the Mall are still asked to keep social distancing in mind and to wear masks, NPS said. Those interested in applying for a permit can do so in person or by mail anytime Monday - Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m , with the application and more information on the division's website.