WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Tourism sites around Washington are preparing to welcome visitors again as the 16-day partial government shutdown ends.
Some sites plan to open to visitors Thursday, just hours after a deal was struck to reopen the government. Others will open to the public in coming days.
Barriers that surrounded National Park Service memorials and monuments during the shutdown are being removed Thursday morning.
The U.S. Capitol’s visitor’s center will open Thursday with tours. The Smithsonian says its museums opened at 10 a.m. Thursday.
PHOTO GALLERY: Giant Panda Cub Getting Bigger
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s panda cam is back online, but the zoo itself is taking more time to reopen after the government shutdown.
The webcam went live Thursday morning giving fans a view of a much larger cub wriggling about as her mother, Mei Xiang, tucked her paws under her chin and watched.
Zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson says the zoo will reopen to the public on Friday. She says the staff needs time to check all the buildings, paths and grounds. The zoo is also working to restore the staff’s regular schedules after they were cut back during the shutdown.
When it reopens, the zoo will offer discounts on food and merchandize through Sunday to welcome visitors back. Also the carousel will be free for visitors under age 18.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will reopen Thursday. The National Gallery of Art and Sculpture Garden is also reopening Thursday after previously planning to wait until Saturday.
“Just to be able to get back to serving the public is so important,” said Greg Bettwy as he prepared to return to his job with the Smithsonian’s human resource department. Bettwy said he watched his spending carefully during the shutdown — choosing store brands at the grocery store and forgoing a trip to see a Penn State football game.
Nationwide, the impasse had shuttered monuments and national parks. In Florida, the closure of the Everglades National Park had put almost all Florida Bay off limits, but commercial fishermen were set to return Friday. Parks across the country made similar plans.
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