White House sidewalk permanently closed to the public

Posted April 21, 2017

Under the plan outlined Wednesday by agency officials, the sidewalk bordering the South Lawn will be permanently closed to tourists at 11 p.m. on Wednesday, USA Today reported.

Sidewalk access has been 11 p.m.to 6 a.m. since 2015.

"The Secret Service must continually evaluate security protocols and continually balance the security of our protected persons and facilities with the public's ability to access them", Secret Service Communications Director Cathy Milhoan told The Hill.

Secret Service spokeswoman Catherine Milhoan said authorities also considered the implications of imposing further restrictions on public access to the immediate area of the White House. The agency added more security measures to the front of the White House after a number of intrusions in the past few years.

The changes were put into effect late Wednesday and follow the arrest last month of a California man who climbed over a fence in that area of the White House and was able to roam the grounds for about 17 minutes while carrying Mace before officers discovered him.

The agency did not directly mention the fence-jumper in March as a motivation, but they said the new restrictions may help deter similar attempts in the future.

The blocking of the sidewalk will not obstruct the public's ability to view the White House and no additional "physical" barriers will be installed, according to the Reuters report.

Weeks after the March 10 incident, a woman jumped over a temporary barrier outside the White House fence. It's still unclear how he was able to get so close to the White House after jumping the fence and why he was wandering the grounds. Contracts for the construction of a taller and more fortified perimeter fence, largely prompted by the 2014 breach, are expected to be awarded later this year.

The goal is to create a buffer zone like the one at Pennsylvania Avenue.

And it's not just the Trump White House that faces this problem.