President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will have fewer than 1,500 official guests organizers revealed Wednesday.
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies announced that members of Congress would only get one ticket each for the January 20 ceremony to swear in President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, as opposed to the 200,000 tickets that are normally distributed.
‘The JCCIC, in consultation with diversified public health and medical experts and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, has determined that this global pandemic and the rise in COVID-19 cases warranted a difficult decision to limit attendance at the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies to a live audience that resembles a State of the Union,’ said the committee’s chairman, Sen. Roy Blunt. ‘We are also working on enhanced opportunities to watch the ceremonies online, in addition to the traditional televised national broadcast.’
The JCCIC and the Presidential Inaugural Committee work together to put on the affair.
On Tuesday, the PIC announced that there would be an outdoor swearing-in ceremony in front of the U.S. Capitol Building, but encouraged the public to stay home.
President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn-in in front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, following tradition, but the inauguration will be scaled-down to follow COVID-19 health and safety protocols
Among the changes: crowd size, which the chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Sen. Roy Blunt, said would be more similar to the audience of a State of the Union address (pictured) with every lawmaker getting just one ticket for a guest
The stage for the presidential inauguration is being built outside the U.S. Capitol, but organizers are asking the public to not show due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic
A viewing stand across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House is being constructed for the inaugural parade, which organizers say will proceed but be ‘reimagined’
For several weeks, workers have been building the inaugural parade viewing stands on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House
The stand can be seen being erected for the inaugural parade from the North Lawn of the White House
‘The [Presidential Inaugural Committee] is urging the public to refrain from any travel and participate in the inaugural activities from home,’ the PIC announcement.
The committee said the ceremony’s footprint will be ‘extremely limited’ and the parade – that traditionally delivers the newly sworn-in president back to the White House via Pennsylvania Avenue – will be ‘reimagined.’
The Washington Post reported that fewer officials would be onstage with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris during the swearing-in and speech.
Construction of the inaugural platform in front of the U.S. Capitol and the parade viewing stand in front of the White House commenced weeks ago.
Biden and Harris have taken COVID-19 safety protocols much more seriously than outgoing President Donald Trump, who held large rallies, often with mask-less crowds, in the run-up to the November 3 election.
He’s since held a large rally in Georgia, in support of GOP Senate candidates, on December 5. He’s also hosted large, indoor Christmas and Hanukkah parties at the White House, despite the current COVID-19 surge and a history of White House outbreaks.
During the campaign, Biden, Harris and their surrogates held drive-in movie style rallies to get their message out in front of crowds, but with social distancing, as supporters were told to stay in or around their cars.
Biden will hold this kind of rally Tuesday afternoon in Atlanta, Georgia on behalf of the Democratic Senate candidates, Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
On January 20, the PIC announced that Biden and Harris would take their oaths of office in a ‘historic ceremony that includes vigorous health and safety protocols.’
The aim, the committee said, was to have a ceremony that ‘honors and resembles sacred American traditions while keeping Americans safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19.’
The release also previewed Biden’s speech saying that it ‘lays out his vision to beat the virus, build back better, and bring the country together.’
The PIC has brought on a chief medical adviser, Dr. David Kessler, who Biden already tapped to be co-chair of his COVID-19 advisory board.
Kessler is former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, serving under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Stephanie Cutter, President Barack Obama’s deputy campaign manager in 2012, will serve as an executive producer for the inauguration.
Inauguration day typically begins at the White House with the outgoing president greeting the incoming one.
So far, Trump has refused to concede the election and has suggested he might make the unprecedented move of skipping the affair.
‘I don’t want to talk about that,’ Trump said on Fox & Friends Sunday when asked if he would go.
Trump famously started off his administration by having then Press Secretary Sean Spicer go out into the press briefing room and insist his inaugural crowd was larger than the audience gathered to watch President Barack Obama sworn-in in 2009.