The Commitment March this Friday on the National Mall could draw tens of thousands people, leaving city officials to prepare a two-pronged safety push: one, to keep attendees safe physically; and two, to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld says his crews, which have just increased to nearly pre-pandemic levels, will be reminding riders that they are required to wear a mask while on trains and buses.
“I think the vast majority of people will do it," Wiedefeld told News4. "I think there’s a lot of community peer pressure to do it. And it’s just the right thing to do.”
Metro will also be asking passengers to spread out across platforms, meaning you’ll likely find the most space in the last two railcars of trains. No Metro stations are being closed because of this event.
But it's a different scene on the roads. As of Wednesday afternoon, News4 found some familiar sights already going into place on the streets surrounding the National Mall. Barricades are going up, and crews are putting up "no parking" signs and closing streets. Many of them are closed Friday from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.
This year COVID safety is extending not only to how people get around, but who is coming into the District. D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said because of the pandemic, not everyone is being allowed into the city for the march.
"The organizers have been very good about that," Newsham said, "even restricting buses from some of the states that have some concerns with COVID from not coming to the event. So they have been very cooperative with us.”
Airport leaders said there are no significant changes to air travel protocols. But be aware: some airlines have added flights bringing travelers to the area for the event.
The Commitment March will be streamed virtually, and those from states considered COVID hotspots by D.C. leaders are being asked to conduct their own marches back home.
If you are going to the march, you have to pre-register, and you are being asked to enter through a marked entry point along 17th Street NW.