If you're planning on taking a selfie in front of the White House sometime soon, prepare to be a little disappointed. The Secret Service announced Thursday that starting the following Wednesday, the sidewalk outside the White House will be closed to public access. A representative from the agency said that the goal is to deter would-be intruders; however, an unintended side-effect of the policy is that taking selfies outside of the White House will be trickier. At least, that'll be the case if you're taking them from directly outside of the historic residence.
Currently, the sidewalk that runs along the south fence of the White House is closed from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. ET but open during the day. Beginning Wednesday, it will be closed to foot traffic 24 hours a day, the Secret Service said Thursday. In a statement, Secret Service Communications Director Cathy Milhoan said that the move is an attempt to "lessen the possibility of individuals illegally accessing the White House grounds."
And that makes a good degree of sense. According to the agency, there have been around 100 incidents over the last three years during which somebody has attempted to hop the White House fence. In 2014, an armed man jumped the fence, entered the White House and, according to CNN, made it as far as the East Room before being apprehended. After that incident, the Secret Service installed sharp spikes along the top of the White House fence.
But in March, an individual scaled the east fence and remained on White House grounds for over 15 minutes before agents detained him. President Trump was inside the White House at the time, and the intruder had mace on him. However, he was stopped short of entering the building. Given such frequent security breaches outside the White House, the government is seeking an even taller, more heavily-fortified fence to guard the property. USA Today reported that bids for said fence are expected later this year.
Despite the security concerns, taking photos of the White House will still be possible. Milhoan stressed that the sidewalk closure "is not going to impede the public's ability to take the iconic photo of the White House."
"It's still there," she said. "It's just going to be pushed back a little further. We are always trying to balance the desire for access and the security for both the public and those inside the grounds.'' Still, anybody who wants to take a selfie outside the White House will soon be pushed a few feet back — and when taking selfies, every foot of space counts.