Joe Biden’s inauguration plans rethought in age of COVID-19

President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next month is likely to be more subdued than previous ones – as the US public health advice is to avoid big gatherings and parties.

The ceremony is due to take place in Washington DC on 20 January and there are still many details to be confirmed.

But it is thought a giant parade along Pennsylvania Avenue – the road outside the White House – is unlikely, and fancy balls where the new president typically dances with their spouse could become virtual events.

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Image:The swearing-in ceremony will go ahead as planned, rather than virtually

The traditional post-ceremony lunch where politicians offer their best wishes, advice and words of wisdom to the incoming president, may not include food this year.

Despite speculation, the swearing-in ceremony will not be virtual – construction of the main platform on the Capitol’s West Front started on 3 November.

It is believed the platform will not be as crowded as it typically has been in the past – and that guests will be expected to socially distance and wear masks.

Politicians are also considering making COVID-19 tests mandatory for anyone who will have authority to be near the president-elect, according to a spokesperson from the joint congressional committee tasked with overseeing the event.

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Image:Face masks, social distancing and even COVID-19 tests may be mandatory for those who wish to be closest to the president-elect

The VIP platform can hold up to 1,600 people, while politicians are able to distribute tickets for other positions close by.

A big reviewing stand for the public is also being built in front of the White House.

No decisions have yet been made – but it is understood that the committee has been considering cutting down the numbers on both accounts.

Trump's inauguration
Image:Thousands of people typically attend inauguration ceremonies – the forthcoming one will look a little different

President-elect Joe Biden said his priority is keeping Americans “safe”.

He said: “My guess is there will still be a platform ceremony.

“But I don’t know exactly how it’s all going to work out. The key is keeping people safe. I can’t do a super version of the president’s announcement in the Rose Garden.”

He was thought to be referring to Donald Trump’s Rose Garden introduction of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett – which turned out to be a superspreader event with hundreds of people crammed together, many without masks.

Image:President Donald Trump at his post-inauguration ball

Mr Biden said the ceremony will probably be similarly styled to his all-virtual nomination event in the summer.

He said: “I think you’re going to see something that’s closer to what the convention was like than a typical inauguration.

“First and foremost, in my objective, is to keep America safe but still allow people to celebrate – to celebrate and see one another celebrate.”

It remains unknown which celebrity singer will perform at the ceremony – but one source close to the inauguration has hinted it may be someone who campaigned for the president-elect – including Lady Gaga, John Legend and Jon Bon Jovi.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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