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Campus Notebook: CVC Guides Win Right to Drink Water

After months of complaints, Capitol Visitor Center tour guides who work outside can now carry water bottles ‘ so long as they ‘drink discreetly.’

‘Employees are allowed to carry beverage containers with them,’ the new policy dictates. ‘While outside, employees must continue to maintain the level of decorum and are asked to drink discreetly while they maintain appropriate hydration levels.’

Tour guides who work in the Capitol, meanwhile, ‘are expected to refrain from drinking in front of visitors within the public spaces to the extent they can,’ the policy continues.

The new rules are outlined in a letter sent Thursday by Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers to D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who requested an update during a September hearing of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, which she chairs.

Norton has long expressed concern over CVC employees’ complaints that they couldn’t drink water on the job and that their uniforms are insufficient for bad weather. But in a recent interview, she said the letter from Ayers inspires confidence.

‘When I say they did it right, I mean it,’ she said. ‘I’m pleased about not only the fact that they have new uniforms, but they got them by first soliciting the comments of their own employees.’

Guides’ new uniforms are waterproof, breathable, warmer and made of higher-quality fabric, according to Ayers’ letter. Guides who work outside will also be provided umbrellas for rainy days and cold-weather headgear, and they can wear personal gloves and layers underneath their uniforms.

During hot weather, guides working outside can remove their AOC-issued red vests, and those working inside can remove their blazers and ties while giving Dome tours.

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