Washington – Health and social distancing recommendations in the era of the coronavirus are about to collide with what is often one of America’s biggest celebrations: the swearing-in of the new president.
Although there are still many details to be resolved, the swearing-in on January 20 will surely be more moderate than others: without the gigantic parade down Pennsylvania Avenue or the traditional luncheon for legislators.
And the oath itself? The platform in front of the Capitol is setting up as usual, but it probably won’t be as crowded.RELATED
“I think we’re going to see something more like what the convention was than a typical swearing-in,” President-elect Joe Biden said Friday, referring to the totally virtual event that marked his nomination last summer. “My goal is to keep America safe, but still allow people to celebrate.”
For their convention, Democrats mixed home videos, speeches in schools and living rooms, with background music, for a video narrated by famous presenters.
Biden’s oath itself will not be virtual. But guests must be prepared to socially distance themselves and wear a sanity mask. Lawmakers are also considering requiring a COVID-19 test for anyone on the platform close to the president-elect, said Paige Waltz, a spokeswoman for the joint congressional committee tasked with overseeing the event.
The VIP platform has capacity for 1,600 people. Legislators also often distribute tickets to nearby stalls. While no tough decisions have been made, the committee is considering cutting the numbers in both cases.
“I assume there will still be a ceremony on the platform,” Biden said. “But I don’t know exactly how everything is going to work out. The key is to keep people safe. I cannot do a super version of the announcement of the president in the Rosedal ”.
That was an apparent reference to the event in the White House Rose Garden where President Donald Trump announced Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and where hundreds of people gathered, many without masks.
Biden’s proactive approach to coronavirus during his campaign offers clues as to what to expect in terms of swearing-in ceremony modifications.