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US Secret Service sets up 'Green Zone' in Washington before inauguration

The intensified security precautions will block parts of the nation's capital from vehicular traffic and non-local pedestrians

Crews install razor wire on top of the fencing that now surrounds the US Capitol before the inauguration, Washington, DC, January 15, 2021. Getty Images/AFP
Crews install razor wire on top of the fencing that now surrounds the US Capitol before the inauguration, Washington, DC, January 15, 2021. Getty Images/AFP

In an extraordinary move, the US Secret Service has announced it will set up a "Green Zone" in the nation's capital as part of security precautions for the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden following a violent insurrection at the US Capitol last week.

The "Green Zone" encompasses roads, subway stations and parts of Washington that only locals can access.

"Vehicle traffic restricted to residents or businesses within the restricted area and National Guard personnel will be assisting with verifying traffic entering into the Green Zone," the Secret Service statement read.

Mr Biden will be sworn in during a ceremony on January 20, with the National Mall closed to pedestrians. The grounds are often the space where celebratory crowds gather outdoors to watch the inauguration on large TV screens.

The heightened security is due to growing concerns of armed protests and potential violence after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol in a deadly riot.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has said there may be armed protests beginning as early as this weekend and in the days leading up to the inauguration in Washington, as well as in state capitals across the country.

City and national leaders have called for people to stay away from the area and instead to participate virtually, especially due to the pandemic. The National Parks Service confirmed the Mall will be closed as part of a request from the Secret Service.

There will also be a "Red Zone," the Secret Service announced, with "vehicle traffic restricted to authorised vehicles only with [a] proper vehicle placard."

The Secret Service said roads near the White House, Lincoln Memorial, National Mall and the Capitol will be closed starting this weekend and through January 21.

Thousands of National Guard members have been sent to the area as part of the security measures. Reports say the number of National Guard troops may reach about 25,000 by January 20.

The "Green Zone" is comprised of the areas surrounding the "Red Zone." The "Zones" are an extensive security perimeter encompassing the White House, legislative buildings, other government institutions and monuments in and around the National Mall.

This also affects city residents and local businesses. Concrete barriers, military vehicles and metal fencing with razor wiring are being positioned to enforce these "Zones" in the city.

As a result, city bus and Metro services will be affected and will be rerouted, skipping stops or manoeuvring around the security perimeters. Parking garages in the "Zones" have also been shut.

Additionally, in a statement, the Customs and Border Protection agency said it will contribute to securing the "Zones" for the inauguration.

Updated: January 16, 2021 04:08 AM

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