DECEMBER 4, 2020
President-elect Joe Biden said his January inauguration is likely to resemble the largely virtual Democratic National Convention last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, and he said he would emphasize safety to avoid spreading the virus.
“My guess is there will not be a gigantic inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. But my guess is you’ll see a lot of virtual activity in states all across America,” Mr. Biden said Friday in Wilmington, Del. He said it was “highly unlikely” that millions of people would gather at the National Mall as part of the festivities.
“I think you’re going to see something that is closer to what the convention was like than a typical inauguration,” he said.
Mr. Biden said his transition team was holding discussions with congressional leaders in preparations for the events planned on Jan. 20, when he is scheduled to be sworn-in as the nation’s 46th president. Public health officials have continued to warn against large gatherings as coronavirus cases have skyrocketed across the country.
“First and foremost, my objective is to keep America safe but still allow people to celebrate,“ Mr. Biden said. ”People want to celebrate. People want to be able to say we’ve passed the baton. We’re moving on and democracy is functioning.”
Mr. Biden announced the formation of a Presidential Inaugural Committee on Monday that will oversee the event’s organization and be led by Delaware State University President Tony Allen and Maju Varghese, a former Obama administration official who was the chief operating officer of Mr. Biden’s campaign.
Construction has already begun on the inauguration platform outside the U.S. Capitol.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo), the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, has said that preparations have included discussions about possible adjustments due to the pandemic, such as whether there needs to be testing or contact tracing.
President Trump hasn’t conceded the election and has been noncommittal about attending inauguration. In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Mr. Biden said he believed it was important for Mr. Trump to attend his inauguration “for the country.”
“Not in a personal sense, important in a sense that…there is a peaceful transfer of power with the competing parties standing there, shaking hands and moving on,” Mr. Biden said.
“It is totally his decision and it’s of no personal consequence to me,” he added.