-President Donald Trump said he drew the largest inauguration crowd ever in January 2017. Fast forward four years, president-elect Joe Biden and his team say they'd rather have Americans stay home during the inaugural.
Citing the escalating global health crisis, Biden's inauguration committee does not want Americans to head all the way to Washington just to attend his oath-taking Jan. 20 but urges them to simply participate in the celebration virtually, Reuters reported Wednesday.
As usual, elected officials and other people from across the U.S. will join Biden and Vice president-elect Kamala Harris on the platform outside the Capitol, but attendance will be limited, the Presidential Inaugural Committee said.
Construction of the inaugural platform where Biden will be sworn in has been underway for over a month. But a huge part of the ceremonies will look different for the 46th U.S. commander in chief.
For instance, the usual shoulder-to-shoulder celebratory meal could be scrapped -- or perhaps socially distanced -- with performances from Hollywood celebrities likely taking place from remote stages as part of reimagined or "abnormal" traditional ceremony in a very abnormal year.
"The pandemic is continuing to have a significant public health impact across the nation... we're are asking Americans to participate in inaugural events from home to protect themselves, their families, friends and communities," USA Today quoted David Kessler as saying. Kessler was a former surgeon general and the committee's chief medical adviser.
The coronavirus pandemic -- which scientists expect to intensify over the winter months in the U.S. despite the approval of a COVID vaccine -- has sickened more than 16.5 million and claimed the lives of over 300,000 Americans. Biden made Trump's handling of the crisis a centerpiece of his campaign.
Trump, who has downplayed public health protocols recommended by his own pandemic task force, may not be present during his successor's oath-taking, NBC reported earlier this month.