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What to expect on US inauguration day

Authorities have ordered enhanced security across Washington for Joe Biden's inauguration as 46th US president

The inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden on January 20 is shaping up to be an unprecedented event due to the Covid-19 pandemic and unconventional nature of President Donald Trump’s departure from the White House.

Following the breach of the US Capitol on January 6, authorities ordered enhanced security measures across Washington ahead of inauguration day, including the posting of a large battalion of National Guard troops.

To prevent mobs once again descending on Washington, some hotels and Airbnbs sites in the area have temporarily closed. Delta Air Lines has also stopped travellers flying to Washington from checking-in firearms.

Mr Trump has said he will not attend the inauguration ceremony, which marks the official transfer of presidential power, breaking from a long-standing tradition that sees outgoing presidents welcome their successor to the White House on inauguration day.

On the closing day of an unconventional presidency, Mr Trump is also unlikely to follow other White House customs for an outgoing president, such as leaving a letter to their successor in an Oval Office desk drawer.

Impeached for a second time over the Capitol riot, Mr Trump will leave Washington on the morning of the inauguration to fly to his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago, where he plans to live, Bloomberg reported.

One tradition that will remain is that the president-elect will stay at the historic Blair House presidential guesthouse on the night before his inauguration. The Bidens have accepted an invitation from the State Department to stay there.

While Mr Trump has refused to attend the inauguration ceremony, former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton have all confirmed their attendance.

The pandemic has forced the Biden team to scale back on audience size in order to prevent crowds and any potential for Covid-19 spread.

In previous years, lawmakers have each received tickets to distribute to their constituents, donors or other guests. This year, lawmakers are still invited to attend, but only with a plus-one. Social distancing and mask-wearing will be enforced.

The theme for Mr Biden’s inauguration will be “America United”. While the official schedule for the day has yet to be released, he officially becomes president at noon on inauguration day, according to the 20th amendment to the constitution.

The inauguration will be followed by a "pass in review" military ceremony, during which the armed forces acknowledge their new commander-in-chief. Mr Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris will then visit Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony.

The rest of the day’s events will be digital, with a televised “Parade Across America” that will feature “diverse, dynamic performances in communities across the country”.

Inauguration day will close with a 90-minute prime-time virtual event hosted by Tom Hanks, with performances from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Bruce Springsteen, among others.

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Updated: January 19, 2021 11:06 AM

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