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Wisconsin State Capitol open to public for the first time in 14 months

The building has been closed for 14 months and reopened to the public on Monday.
The building has been closed for 14 months and reopened to the public on Monday.(WMTV Elise Romas)
Published: May. 3, 2021 at 7:45 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - After being closed to the public for 14 months, the Wisconsin State Capitol re-opened Monday.

The building is only open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

All visitors must enter through the entrance on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Once inside, guests must wear a mask and social distance, but despite the new rules, people are excited to get back inside.

“We heard it was opening up! And she has been wanting to come here for six months,” Madison resident Mike Retelle said gesturing toward his young granddaughter.

It is something mother-daughter pair Joanne Juhnke and Miriam Oakleaf have missed during the winter months.

“Having this beautiful place to walk stairs and have a lovely place to go to get some exercise and see all of the familiar places in there,” Juhnke said.

State legislators working inside the Capitol are also happy to see the change. They are now more accessible to their constituents.

“It’s important that people have access to their government, and gov doesn’t work well when people don’t have a good way to engage with their public officials,” State Sen. Melissa Agard (D) Dist. 16 said.

“I’m getting tired of Zoom, so I am looking forward to having people in my office hopefully, visiting with them and hearing their issues,” State Rep. Todd Novak (R) Dist. 51 said.

Visitors hope to see more of the Capitol as things slowly open in our community.

“It just feels good to have this step toward being a little bit more normal,” Juhnke said.

“It’s a fun place to be,” Retelle said.

NBC15 also spoke with Ed Downs, the tour guide at the information desk inside the rotunda this morning. Downs said right now, the capitol is still not scheduling any tours of the building.

“They’re finding out what they can open as they go along,” Downs said, “and right now, they’re taking care to make sure everyone is staying safe masks are required and they’re asking for social distancing, but other than that, we’re happy to have people in here!”

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