Smithsonian Closes Four Museums Temporarily Over COVID-19 ‘Winter Surge’

Smithsonian Closes Four Museums Temporarily Over COVID-19 'Winter Surge' Smithsonian Closes Four Museums Temporarily Over COVID-19 'Winter Surge'

A view of the Smithsonian from the Old Post Office in Washington. (Joe Sohm/Dreamstime.com)

By Luca Cacciatore | Wednesday, 29 December 2021 07:41 PM

The Smithsonian Institution announced on Tuesday that four museums would be temporarily closed amid a ''winter surge'' of COVID-19 in Washington caused by the omicron variant.

The four museums closed starting Dec. 29 until Jan. 3 are the National Museum of African Art, the National Postal Museum, the Anacostia Community Museum and the National Museum of Asian Art.

''Like many other organizations, the Smithsonian has been managing the direct and indirect outcomes of the latest surge,'' a statement read. ''Over the last few days, the Smithsonian has seen an increase in positive covid cases and associated quarantine periods among our essential and operational staff.''

''The Smithsonian strives to keep as many of our museums open to the public as possible without sacrificing the health and safety of our visitors and staff,'' the press release added.

Those aged 2 and older are required to wear masks while indoors at the museums that remain open, regardless of vaccination status, according to CBS News.

The announcement by the museum followed increased concerns by District of Columbia authorities over rising COVID-19 cases.

Patrick Ashley, senior deputy director at DC Health, said the city had reported a rising case rate but a lower hospitalization rate than a month ago. At a Wednesday briefing, he urged residents to be vaccinated and boosted.

''We know that being boosted, fully vaccinated and boosted, is the primary way to prevent you from any severe illness or death,'' Ashley said. ''We know that the difference between being boosted versus unvaccinated is you're 10 times more likely to become infected and 20 times more likely to die.''