Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial in the nation's capital to see the blooming Japanese cherry trees.
Hundreds of cherry blossoms each spring sprout pink and white flowers on hundreds of trees, gifted to the U.S. in 1912 from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan.
This year, viewers will have to go online, the National Park Service announced Tuesday.
"In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and DC Health and in consultation with the National Park Service Office of Public Health, the National Park Service will limit all vehicular and pedestrian access to the Tidal Basin, East Potomac Park and West Potomac Park during the peak bloom period of the cherry blossoms as a public health precaution to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," the NPS said.
"The start and end dates of any restrictions are dependent on the bloom cycle of the trees, but are currently projected to fall between March 26 and April 12. Updates will be posted on nps.gov/cherry and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @NationalMallNPS."
Last year, the peak bloom occurred just after the start of the pandemic in mid-March before some of the coronavirus health-safety orders went into full effect, including mask wearing, which resulted in thousands of cherry blossom watchers, at times, packed together in some parts of the city.
The press release then includes a slew of road closures – so don't even try.
Still, the NPS offered a couple options. "The public is reminded that cherry blossom trees can be viewed at sites and parks throughout Washington, D.C. and are encouraged to virtually experience the trees at the Tidal Basin this year through a variety of online opportunities."
- Virtual visitors will be able to view the blossoms through the Trust for the National Mall’s BloomCam, a 24/7, live, real-time look at the Tidal Basin that allows people from around the world to virtually view the beloved blossoming cherry trees in real time. BloomCam will be streaming live starting March 24 on both the National Cherry Blossom Festival and Trust for the National Mall websites providing live, around-the-clock views of the cherry trees along the Tidal Basin. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/bloom-watchwww.nationalmall.org/bloomcam
- The National Park Service’s cherry blossom website provides a wealth of virtual peak bloom experiences, including online “Bloomin’ Junior Ranger” activities (complete with a virtual Junior Ranger badge), virtual tours of the Tidal Basin, trivia, games and even a special virtual cherry blossom stamp for the Passport to Your National Parks. www.nps.gov/cherry