Moreover, the outgoing president may not even go to swear in the incoming president. Three White House officials who know Trump’s mood and habits assume he won’t be there in the hand.
“I can’t anticipate the scenario where he’s going, and that tradition will continue as usual,” one official tells CNN.
Undoubtedly, the splendor and circumstance are noticeably different this time around, according to interviews with several assistant and administrative officials, from the White House to Capitol Hill, DC’s mayoral office. The future of the traditional lunch in the sculpture room is in the air, and it is unlikely that a choir will take place behind the new president.
The initiation is also expected to be smaller and participants will have to wear a mask and maintain social distance within the ticket value parameters.
The congressional committee, whose choreography was the choreography of the Capitol, sought to map out a series of scenarios in consultation with medical experts.
The committee has been in an awkward position since election day as Trump refused to accept the loss. While he couldn’t immerse himself exclusively in Biden’s team, the committee has spent the past few months making plans for who will win the election. His aides have maintained neutrality in recent weeks as Trump’s denial has dragged on and communicated with both his own and Biden’s teams about what the options might be by January 20th.
The task of the congressional committee is all that happens within the ticket value parameter of the inauguration day, which typically includes proximity from the Capitol itself to Fourth Street on each side, an area that typically receives roughly 200,000 people. The iconic VIP platform – which is the image of politicians on both sides that the new president will take the oath of office, surrounded by his spouse and family – holds 1,600 people.
A final decision per source has not yet been made, but the platform is expected to receive far fewer than 1,600 people. There is also an ongoing debate over whether to require Covid testing for those who remain on the main platform near Biden.
An assistant warned that the maximum number of tests that can currently be processed on Capitol Hill is approximately 300 per day, which may fall short of the normal number of people allowed on the platform.
Biden said over the summer that he did not want to wear a mask at his inauguration ceremony, and an assistant tells CNN that this remains the president’s preference.
Like most things on Capitol Hill, the historical events of the day have their own currency. Members of Congress often use their allotted induction tickets to be grateful to huge creators or large donors. Cached as part of history hangs significant carrots.
This week, however, there is growing frustration. Those familiar with planning say members have not yet been told how many tickets to allocate, if any. Instead, they are told to write down the names of those interested in participating and let them know that they are in a keeping pattern.
One thing was set by the congressional committee, regardless of the number of participants: in the wedding area, everyone should follow the guidelines of mask and social distance.
The choir, which is usually located on ascents behind the president, cannot occur at all, according to an assistant. The Marine Band, which has played on every installation since 1801, continues to participate.
One tradition that can face setbacks is the inaugural lunch held after the wedding. This is the first meal to be consumed by the new president and is usually served with about 200 members of the congressional leadership who attend the statue, the large, tiled room, with high ceilings and dramatic columns.
The gala lunch dates back to 1897 for President William McKinley, and the new presidents choose menus carefully. President Obama’s 2009 oath menu was inspired by Abraham Lincoln and included seafood stew as well as American birds, including pheasants and ducks.
But the hall is usually crowded for lunch, it’s a dangerous thing in an epidemic, especially because health professionals have warned of the risks of eating indoors. This year, event planners need to carefully consider what message a lunch can send to an American audience who has been told over and over again to stay home and avoid themselves and others from the virus.
Assistants warn that perception is everything. His recent memory is a consequence of a debate that erupted earlier this month when the House Democrats held a personal retreat in the room. Only two members per table were allowed and the space between the dining rooms was demarcated, but the public blow led to a possible cancellation of dinner. Instead, members were given boxed dinners that they could take home.
Questions about the parade
Festive swearing-in and lunch are just two areas of the inaugural day celebrations that may look different this year. There are still questions about what the parade will look like with the progress of DC’s mayor’s office, but he’s still unsure of how that will eventually turn out.
“We are planning a parade as well as other elements of the inaugural tradition; however, each inauguration reflects the person sworn in, so we are waiting for the appointment of the Presidential Renewal Committee to understand how we can support their vision,” Susana Castillo said the mayor’s spokeswoman. This Wednesday, DC will return to modified second-phase Covid protocols after the number has increased. For outdoor gatherings, the number of people allowed will be reduced from 50 to 25.
Crucial will be a crucial part of the committees, the city, and the National Park Service — to an extent and in a way that perhaps no single festive parade has had to do before. Crowds want to celebrate Biden’s oath; city officials said there were 1.8 million when Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009.
That’s what Biden’s team is considering, still shy after eight weeks.
“The trick is to allow the celebration, but not in person,” says a source who is familiar with planning conversations. “It feels almost impossible, but that’s the only option.”
The source adds that Biden is all too aware of the power of presidential persuasion, and anything that can be attributed to the virtual audience will certainly jeopardize the credibility of what the president-elect has proclaimed about virus awareness. The success of the Virtual Democratic National Congress in August is currently a model of how to successfully launch a smooth installation, the source says, saying the events of January 20 are likely to have a large streaming component, including evening balls and entertainment, again in the same spirit like the DNC.
Celebrations without the physical camaraderie of the participants will also have an impact on Washington, a city that receives a huge financial return every time a new president takes office.
Hotels are booked months in advance, deposits are made at event venues for dozens of opening Balls, and smaller pre- and post-parties are hosted by DC social maves and ambassadorial hierarchies to receive them under a new administration.
“People in the industry are getting ready for a very calm January,” says a long-time high-quality Washington event planner. “No one expects the business we would normally expect in the inaugural year.”
CNN’s Arlette Saenz and Pete Muntean contributed to the report.