Congress will shut the U.S. Capitol, House, and Senate office buildings to public until April 1 in an effort to halt the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, the Associated Press reported Thursday. The unprecedented step comes as confirmed cases of the flu-like virus hit 1,068 in the U.S, with 32 deaths. The House and Senate sergeants at arms said in a statement the closure will start at 5 p.m. ET Thursday. Lawmakers, aides, journalists, and official visitors will still be allowed inside. The statement said officials were acting “out of concern for the health and safety of congressional employees as well as the public.”
The World Health Organization classified the spread of coronavirus as a pandemic on Wednesday and President Trump addressed the nation on Wednesday night, saying he would ban all travel from European nations, except for the United Kingdom.