Which American landmarks are about to reopen, and what remains closed due to coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has closed iconic tourist sites across the country for nearly two months. Now that states are slowly starting to reopen, some of those landmarks are about to open upto visitors, too. 

a canyon with a mountain in the background: The Grand Canyon in Arizona is one of the nation's 58 National Parks.

© Michael Chow, azcentral.com
The Grand Canyon in Arizona is one of the nation’s 58 National Parks.

Not all national parks will open at the same time; most are consulting with federal, state and local health authorities to determine the right time and way to reopen.

Parks in states that have a high infection rate or are still under stay-at-home orders may open later than ones in states that weren’t as affected or have already begun reopening.

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When a park reopens, not everything will be back to normal right away. Some sites are only partially reopening to start, and others will limit their capacity to comply with social distancing guidelines. Indoor venues may require visitors to wear face coverings. Hand sanitizer and increased frequency of cleaning will be common. 

Here’s a list of what’s opening and when, as well of others that remain closed:

Opening soon

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The Grand Canyon National Park will open its South Rim entrance on Friday. The park, which has been closed since March 24, will open to incoming traffic from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., though officials recommend arriving no later than 9:30 a.m. Once you enter the park, you’ll be allowed to stay for the day but overnight accommodations are not available. If you visit, plan on being self-sufficient. That means you should bring enough food and water for your trip.

Restroom facilities will be available by the South Entrance Grand Canyon National Park sign, picnic area east of Yaki Road, Shoshone Point and Buggeln picnic area. If you plan to use them, bring hand sanitizer.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum, Ohio

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame over a body of water: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cleveland’s Rock Hall has been closed since March 14. Its president and CEO, Greg Harris, anticipates a reopening date of June 15. There will be some changes: The museum will operate at half-capacity, and visitors will be issued a timed digital ticket, have their temperature checked before entry, and they must wear face coverings. 

The museum’s hours will be limited at first, and touchscreens and interactive exhibits will remain off-limits. Still, Harris said the museum will offer a safe experience while maintaining its focus on the music. 

“We need to keep the DNA of rock and roll,” he said.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

water next to a fence: Windswept sands of Outer Banks create an otherworldly landscape at dawn.

North Carolina’s Outer Banks will lift its ban on visitors on Saturday. The Outer Banks is a string of barrier islands stretching 120 miles from the Virginia border south to Ocracoke Island. It includes the towns of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and Manteo; Hatteras Island and Roanoke Island.

A number of coronavirus restrictions will remain in place, including social distancing guidelines and limits on gatherings to 10 people or less. Restaurants will continue to offer takeout only, and supermarkets may limit the number of people in the store at one time. Personal care, grooming and entertainment businesses remain closed.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

a snow covered mountain: The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone National Park carves through Yellowstone. The result of a volcanic explosion, the canyon stretches 45 miles.

Yellowstone, which has been closed since March 24, overlaps three states: Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. On Monday, the park’s Wyoming entrances will reopen to visitors. Until the Montana entrances open, only the southern half of the park will be accessible. That includes the Old Faithful Geyser. Restrooms, trails, boardwalks and gas stations will be open. However, campgrounds and restaurants will not and tours won’t be available.

Las Vegas Strip, Nevada

While no date has been set for the reopening of Las Vegas casinos, the Nevada Gaming Commission has already approved a set of guidelines for them when they do. 

Casinos are to operate at half capacity, and social distancing will be enforced by casino employees and surveillance. Blackjack, craps, poker and roulette tables will be limited to a certain number of players, and no crowds will be allowed around gaming tables. Hand sanitizer will be available and items like dice, cards and wheels will be disinfected before the next person can touch them.

No more than 250 people will be able to gather in the city’s meeting and convention spaces, and social distancing will be enforced. Nightclubs and dayclubs will remain closed.

Still closed

a city at night: The Empire State Building is illuminated in blue as part of the #LightItBlue for Health Workers movement on April 9, 2020 in New York City.

Empire State Building Observatory and One World Observatory, New York

The Empire State Building’s 86th-floor observatory has been closed to visitors since March 16. Alexandra Chernin, a spokeswoman for Empire State Realty Trust, said the observatory has plans to reopen “at reduced capacity with social distancing as soon as allowed by authorities.”

One World Observatory, perched on the 102nd floor of One World Trade Center, has been closed since March 14. Kristen Bothwell, a spokeswoman, said the observatory is evaluating its plans to reopen.

“We will have more certainty in the coming weeks on an official opening date,” she said.

Hearst Castle, California

The California State Parks system suspended tours of Hearst Castle, the estate of newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, on March 16. The estate, known as the Hearst San Simeon State Historic Monument, has not set a date to reopen to the general public. The park itself remains open to local residents, but with no vehicular access.

Gateway Arch, Missouri

a sign on a pole on Gateway Arch street: No reopening date has been announced for the Gateway Arch in St. Louis yet.

St. Louis’ Gateway Arch National Park closed to visitors on March 18, and that includes the tram ride to the top of the arch, the on-site museum, and riverboat cruises on two 19th-century replica paddlewheel boats.  However, the grounds themselves remain open.

No date has been set to reopen the 630-foot-tall arch, which was designed by Eero Saarinen and was completed in 1965 as a symbol of America’s westward expansion.

a tree in the middle of the street: Early morning runners pass the Washington Monument as they run across the National Mall at daybreak Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington.

National Mall, District of Columbia

The National Mall and Memorial Parks, while not completely closed to the public, has a number of noteworthy closures related to the coronavirus. The Washington Monument and Ford’s Theatre are closed. All restrooms on the mall are closed, and parking is restricted. Athletic fields and volleyball courts are closed, as are concession operations including sightseeing tours, food and beverage kiosks, retail and souvenir stores and Tidal Basin paddle boats.

Walt Disney World, Florida

a group of people standing in front of a tall building: It remains uncertain when Disney World and Disneyland will reopen but doing so would likely involve operating at lower capacity, taking employees' temperatures and frequent cleaning of railings and surfaces.

Walt Disney World has been closed since mid-March, and it remains unclear when it will reopen. However, last month a local government coronavirus task force issued some guidelines on what the theme park might look like when it does open its gates.

Among the changes: The park would initially operate at half-capacity. Employees would wear face coverings and have their temperatures checked at the start of their shifts. Touchless hand sanitizer dispensers would be placed throughout the park, and surfaces and railings would be wiped down regularly. Queues for rides and attractions would require appropriate social distancing. 

Restaurants at the park would operate at half-capacity, and tables would be spaced six feet apart. Menus would be disposable. Hotel mini-bars would not be stocked, and coffee makers, coffee cups and glassware would be removed from guest rooms. All entry doors to retail spaces would be propped or automated. Distancing markers would be placed at check-out counters.

Contributing: Melissa Yeager and Nicole Ludden, Arizona Republic; Ed Komenda, Reno Journal Gazette; Associated Press

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