Tourists visiting the White House are allowed to take photos for the first time in 40 years.
Visitors to the White House were delighted to hear that the change had come into effect, and immediately began snapping photos and posting them to social media, writes Megan Cassella for Reuters.
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First Lady announces change to rules
The change itself was announced on social media, as First Lady Michelle Obama uploaded a video to Instagram. “If you’ve been on a White House tour, you may have seen this sign,” she said, showing a placard which read “No Photos or Social Media allowed” to the camera. “Well, not anymore,” Obama said as she ripped the sign in two, laughing.
Visitors to the White House were shown the video as they arrived on Wednesday. The majority took out smartphones and cameras, snapping away happily as they passed photos of the First Family, as well as signs which read “PHOTOGRAPHY IS ENCOURAGED.”
The ban was originally imposed four decades ago because of worries about the impact of flash photography on artwork, according to the Office of the First Lady. It is not known exactly when the ban was put in place, but its lifting was inspired by changes to flash photography which makes it less damaging.
Security changes at the White House
There are nuances to the lifting of the ban, and users of certain kinds of cameras will still be forbidden from taking photos. Video cameras, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, tripods and monopods are all still outlawed. Selfie sticks are also on the banned list.
In effect, only smartphone cameras and compact cameras which have a lens shorter than 3 inches are allowed.
The partial lifting of the ban on cameras was not the only change to security policy at the White House this week, where a new security measure was put in place around the mansion in order to deter intruders. The spiked fence is designed to provide a temporary deterrent until a permanent structure is constructed next year.
Previous security arrangements were exposed as inadequate due to a number of incidents, including one in which a man climbed a security fence and entered the mansion last September.