Presidential inaugurations are some of the most-attended political ceremonies in American history, with millions flocking to Washington DC every four years to watch the next commander-in-chief be sworn into office at the US Capitol building.
But officials are urging crowds to stay home when President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris assume the White House next month, while planning a “reimagined” traditional ceremony and parade due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Their victory was cemented on Monday when the Electoral College served a final blow to President Donald Trump by confirming Mr Biden and Ms Harris as the winners of the 2020 elections.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee then released a statement saying they were coordinating with the Biden transition team and other groups to host a safe event which “honors and resembles sacred American traditions” while preventing the spread of the novel virus.
Mr Biden’s team has hired the organisers behind this year’s virtual, star-studded Democratic National Convention, which drew praise for its cinematic aesthetic and high-quality production. It was at the weeklong DNC where Ms Harris officially accepted the nomination to serve as Mr Biden’s vice presidential nominee.
The president-elect has previously suggested there would be “a lot of virtual activity in states all across America” on the day of his inauguration, similar to how Democrats live-streamed into the DNC from their perspective states to officially nominate Mr Biden as the Democratic candidate.
The chief medical adviser for the Presidential Inaugural Committee also urged Americans to stay home and prevent the risk of exposure to Covid-19, which is responsible for more than 300,000 deaths nationwide since the outbreak began earlier this year.
Dr David Kellser said Americans should “participate in inaugural events from home to protect themselves, their families, friends, and communities” from the virus.
The committee concluded in its statement: “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.”