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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U. S. Embassy Limits Entry to Essential Staff Only

U. S. Embassy security officials are refusing to allow non-embassy personnel to enter the compound, shutting out "guest members" who pay to use on-site recreational facilities, embassy officials said Thursday.

A spokesman said that because of the blockade of the White House, located nearby, embassy security had received orders to allow only "essential personnel" on the compound.

Among those affected are about 300 non-embassy guest members of the recreational facilities, including journalists, business people and students, said Mary Nolan, general manager of the embassy's community association.

She said that initially some guest members had managed to get through the dual lines of Russian and American security, but by Wednesday that was no longer possible.

"Just about anytime we have a security factor they close to all but necessary personnel", Nolan said. "As soon as they lift the troops I am sure that it will open up again".

Guest members are usually allowed into the embassy cafeteria, video service and a gym, which offers aerobics, nautilus equipment and racquetball courts.

Earlier this week, many embassy workers simply stayed away from the complex. Spokesman Bill Harwood said that Tuesday morning embassy security "had gotten word that things might go bad".

As a result, buses from the Rossinka housing community where many embassy staff live, and buses from embassy apartments to the Anglo-American lower school, did not run for the day.

By Wednesday, the staff had largely returned to work, Harwood said. "With this whole situation you just have to take it one day at a time", he said.

The only way to enter the portion of the embassy which houses the recreational facilities is through two gates at the north and south ends of the embassy, on Bolshoi Devyatinsky Pereulok and Konyushkovskaya Ulitsa. Both are, within the White House blockade. The Anglo-American Upper School, also within the compound, has been closed since Tuesday because of troop activity.