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US Capitol closing to public until April amid virus outbreak

The Associated Press
The Capitol and Senate are seen at sunrise on the first full day of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Congress is shutting the Capitol and all House and Senate office buildings to the public until April in reaction to the spread of the coronavirus.

The House and Senate sergeants at arms said in a statement that the closure will begin at 5 p.m. EDT Thursday. Lawmakers, aides, journalists and official visitors will be allowed into the buildings.

The statement says officials are acting “out of concern for the health and safety of congressional employees as well as the public.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.