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Sidewalk Near White House Closed Permanently

  • VOA News

The U.S. Secret Service is permanently closing the sidewalk along the south side of the White House.

In the wake of several incidents of fence jumping around the White House, the sidewalk near President Donald Trump's residence is now officially closed.

The sidewalk along the south fence of the White House was closed permanently Wednesday, starting at 11 p.m. The sidewalk had previously only been closed overnight.

“This restriction is part of the ongoing comprehensive review of temporary and permanent security measures at the complex,” the Secret Service said in a statement.

Secret Service Communications Director Cathy Milhoan told local radio station WTOP that the closure was not in response to any specific threat.

“We continually evaluate our security protocols while still balancing the security of our protected persons and facilities with the public’s ability to access them,” she said.

While there may be no specific threat, a man was able to jump the fence last month and wander around the White House grounds for 17 minutes before being caught. The man reportedly was able to look through windows and rattled a door handle.

The sidewalk is popular among tourists because of the iconic view of the White House. Milhoan said people would still be able to take photos, but just from about 25 meters back.

“That vantage point … is still there,” Milhoan said. “It’s just a few feet further back.”

She added that restricting access on the sidewalk will help Secret Service agents spot potential threats more easily.

“Restricting public access to the fence line will not only serve to lessen the possibility of individuals illegally accessing the White House grounds,” Milhoan told WTOP radio station. “But will also create a clear visual break to enable Secret Service officers to identify and respond to potential hazards, including individuals attempting to scale the fence.”

Early this year, plans to build a higher fence around the White House were approved, with construction to begin later in the year.

“We always try to balance the public’s right to … access to our protectees and our facilities, and we work very hard to balance that challenge with the challenge of securing an 18-acre complex,” Milhoan said.

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