You can now take selfies while touring the White House, but don’t even think about scaling the fence that Secret Security is sharpening up.
New measures were put in place on Wednesday to allow White House visitors to capture memories that will last a lifetime. After 40 years of a very strict ban on cameras and photographs, those on tours can snap as many pictures as they please — so long as they do not interfere with the experience of another guest.
First Lady Michelle Obama announced the abandonment on Instagram by posting a video of her tearing up an old sign that reminded visitors to not take photos.
Phones and cameras with lenses that are 3 inches long or shorter will be allowed in the White House. Excluded devices include video cameras, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, tripods, monopods, and camera sticks (yes, that means no selfie sticks).
Flash photography and livestreaming the tour is also still prohibited.
According to the White House Historical Association, the ban on photos during White House tours started because people were stopping to take pictures so often that long lines started forming during tours.
Not only was the ban on photography lifted, but social media on White House tours is now being encouraged by the administration. This is nothing new, as the same day, Obama held a virtual town hall meeting on Twitter, allowing people to ask him questions about healthcare — and guacamole.
Also happening Wednesday was the beginning of the installation of metal spikes as the toppers of the fences surrounding the White House, a new security measure.
The installation of what the National Park Service and Secret Security are calling a “removeable anti-climb feature” is expected to take about six weeks.
The spikes are only a temporary addition to the White House fence, and officials have said that they will remain in place “until a long-term solution is implemented.”
Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service employee, said that additional security on the White House fence was needed to make it more difficult to get over.
“It’s clearly inadequate. It’s too easy (to climb). We had a 40-year-old Iraq war veteran with bad knees make it into the East Room. If that’s not a wake up call, I don’t know what is. I think the Secret Service took that very seriously.”
Omar Gonzalez, the Army veteran who was able to make it all the way to the East Room of the White House with a knife in 2014, was sentenced to prison two weeks ago.
The Secret Service has been subject to criticism surrounding the number of intruders on White House grounds in recent years.
[Photo By Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images]