Joseph R. Biden Jr. will become President of the United States at noon on January 20 in a scaled-down inauguration ceremony. While the key elements will remain traditional, many events will be downsized and "redesigned" to better tailor the celebration to a country fighting the coronavirus. Here's a guide to the event.
What does the inauguration look like?
While many of the events will be virtual, Maju Varghese, the executive director of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said the goal is an "inclusive and accessible celebration that will bring Americans together and unite our nation, especially in such a difficult time. our country. "
Mr. Biden will be sworn in by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on the The Western Front of the Capitol somewhere before noon. The new president is then expected to deliver his inaugural address and conduct an evaluation of military forces, as is tradition.
But instead of a parade of cheering onlookers along Pennsylvania Avenue as the new president, vice president and their families make their way to the White House, there will be an official escort with representatives from each branch of the military.
For remote viewers, the inaugural committee has planned what it calls a virtual parade across the country with music, poets and dancers paying tribute to America's heroes on the front lines of the pandemic.
At 5:30 p.m. January 19, the night before Mr. Biden takes the oath, the committee will hold a lighting ceremony around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in memory of people in the United States who died in the coronavirus pandemic.
Is unrest expected?
Washington has been preparing for the possibility of protesters for weeks. But the nation's capital was put on high alert after a violent mob invaded the Capitol on Wednesday, forcing lawmakers to stop the electoral college's official vote to confirm Mr Biden's victory.
Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has warned that extremists backing Mr. Trump could continue to wreak havoc, and she expanded it public emergency until January 21.
The F.B.I. and Secret Service have stepped up security efforts around the inauguration. Experts have warned that some far-right extremist groups are already discussing an attack on the day of the inauguration, similar to the deadly attack on the Capitol.
Unrest on inauguration day is not unprecedented: during Mr. Trump's inauguration in 2017, there was a buzz in Washington damaged storefronts, threw bricks and bricks at police officers and set fire to a limousine in protest against Mr Trump's election. The day ended with more than 200 arrests.
Will President Trump Attend?
President Trump announced on Friday that he would not be attending Mr Biden's inauguration.
Mr. Biden called that decision "one of the few things he and I ever agreed upon."
Yet it is a significant break with the tradition for a president to skip the ceremonial heart of the country's democracy: the peaceful transfer of power.
Vice President Mike Pence will be in attendance, an assistant said Saturday, after Mr Biden made it clear on Friday that he was welcome.
Only three presidents have missed the swearing-in of their successor: John Adams in 1801, his son John Quincy Adams in 1829, and Andrew Johnson, a Democrat who served out the 1869 inauguration after being replaced by a Republican, Ulysses S. Grant.
Who will come? And can I be present?
George W. Bush has confirmed that he would travel to Washington with Laura Bush, the former first lady, for the inauguration day. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are too expect to be there, along with former first ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. Jimmy Carter, who is the oldest living former president at the age of 96, announced that he and his wife would not be attending. It will be the first presidential inauguration Mr. Carter has missed since he was sworn in.
Traditionally, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies would distribute hundreds of thousands of tickets to the inauguration ceremony to members of Congress to invite voters, but this year tickets are not available to members of the public. Planners are urging people to stay at home and participate in virtual opening events to avoid large crowds that could easily spread the coronavirus.
Events will be streamed live by the Presidential Inaugural Committee and by The New York Times.
Why is a presidential inauguration so important?
The 20th amendment to the constitution requires that the term of each elected president and vice president start at afternoon January 20 of the year after the election. Any president has taken the oath of office, and they cannot take their position without doing so.
Symbolically, it marks the peaceful transfer of power from the current president to the next. Inauguration Day will be all the more important this year as Mr Biden is ascending to the presidency at a time when political divisions have threatened the country's democratic institutions and his predecessor worked hard to stay in power.
The inauguration is also a remarkable opportunity to raise money for the president-to-be. While traditional events such as balls have been canceled, Mr. Biden's inaugural committee is offering special “V.I.P. participation” for businesses and affluent individuals who can take the opportunity to gain favor with the new government.
Excess donations cannot be turned over to federal campaigns or party committees. Previous inaugural committees have given unspent funds to disaster relief charities and to groups that decorate and maintain the White House and the vice president's residence.