Construction of the inaugural platform outside the Capitol where Biden will take the oath of office has been underway for more than a month. But many of the ceremonies that have come to mark the day will look different for the 46th president.
Traditionally, presidents host a celebratory concert on the National Mall, parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House and spend the night attending balls across the city.
But this time around “the ceremony’s footprint will be extremely limited, and the parade that follows will be reimagined,” the committee said in a statement that also urged Americans to “refrain from traveling” and participate from home.
Biden is still expected to give a speech from the Capitol steps — one that his team says will focus on his plans for stemming the COVID-19 crisis and rebuilding the nation’s economy. The committee said the ceremony will include strict public health guidelines.
“Americans everywhere must do their part to slow the spread of the virus: wear masks, stay home, and limit gatherings,” Dr. David Kessler, the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s chief medical advisor said in the statement. “We are asking Americans to participate in inaugural events from home to protect themselves, their families, friends, and communities.”
With the onset of colder weather, the pandemic has again been spiking across most of the nation, with President Donald Trump providing little guidance on measures to combat it as he baselessly claims November’s election was rigged.
The virus’ death toll topped an alarming 300,000 this week. The District of Columbia experienced its worst days of the pandemic in December, with record numbers of new cases reported in one day. The city has limited outdoor gatherings to only 25 people, and indoor gatherings to no more than 10 people.
Meanwhile, the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was administered at some medical centers on Monday, the start of a mass vaccination effort. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, on Tuesday said Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris should get the vaccine as soon as possible. Biden pledge to get his shot in a public setting.
The pandemic-related adaptions to Inauguration Day are a continuation of Biden’s unusual general election campaign, where he refrained from holding large rallies and held off on even small-scale events until the campaign’s waning weeks.
Trump, who has not adhered to public health guidelines recommended by his own coronavirus task force, may not attend his successor’s inauguration, NBC reported earlier this month. Asked in an interview that aired Sunday on Fox News whether he would attend, he said, “I don’t want to talk about that.”
Since Election Day, Trump’s supporters have held two rallies in the nation’s capital at which participants disputed Biden’s electoral victory and rejected guidance about social distancing and mask-wearing.
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