The Trump administration has permanently shut down public access to the sidewalk outside of the south fence of the White House, among other restrictions, USA Today reported Wednesday.
That section of the street has been off-limits from 11:00pm to 6:00am since 2015, but it did not open again Thursday morning once it was shut down for the night on Wednesday. In a statement, the Secret Service said the sidewalk was closed off permanently to "lessen the possibility of individuals illegally accessing the White House grounds."
USA Today reports:
The new plan, outlined by agency officials, would attempt to replicate a buffer zone created on Pennsylvania Avenue, where iron bicycle racks were placed in front of the perimeter fence to provide officers additional time to react to fence jumpers.
[...] Under the new proposal, the popular and often-crowded sidewalk bordering the south lawn will be permanently closed to the public beginning at 11:00pm, Wednesday, pushing tourists to the north edge of the 52-acre park known as the Ellipse.
The move comes after a series of recent efforts to shield President Donald Trump from public scrutiny. Last week, the administration announced that it would no longer release visitor logs from the White House, Trump Tower, or the president's Mar-a-Lago resort—prompting the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the watchdog group Public Citizen to question what Trump was trying to hide.
Similar criticisms were sounded after the Secret Service communications director Cathy Milhoan's announcement.
As journalist and women's rights advocate Erin Matson tweeted, "What this means for activists? More highly symbolic First Amendment space is gone. Not American ideals."