President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn into office at the U.S. Capitol next month, following a tradition dating back to Thomas Jefferson, who was the first president to be sworn in Washington in 1801. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the traditional inauguration festivities will be far smaller than those in recent history.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC), which oversees planning for the event, announced health protocols to promote safety on Inauguration Day, January 20. The committee said it was working with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies to plan an event that "honors and resembles sacred American traditions while keeping Americans safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19."
"On January 20, President-elect Biden and Vice-President-elect Harris will take their oaths of office at the U.S. Capitol during a historic ceremony that includes vigorous health and safety protocols," the statement said. "The ceremony's footprint will be extremely limited, and the parade that follows will be reimagined. The PIC is urging the public to refrain from any travel and participate in the inaugural activities from home."
Dr. David Kessler, the committee's chief medical adviser, also said that people should avoid large gatherings when possible, and the committee is "asking Americans to participate in inaugural events from home to protect themselves, their families, friends, and communities."
Mr. Biden's warning against in-person attendance of his inauguration contrasts with President Trump, who for years has been preoccupied with crowd size at his events. In 2017, then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer lied about the size of the crowd at Mr. Trump's inauguration.
More than 300,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, and nearly 17 million have contracted it. The first approved vaccine began rolling out this week, with the first vaccines going to health care workers.
First published on December 15, 2020 / 12:23 PM
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