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Biden announces pared-down Covid-era inauguration

James Crump
·3-min read
President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen theatre, Wednesday 25 November 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware ((Associated Press))
President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen theatre, Wednesday 25 November 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware ((Associated Press))

President-elect Joe Biden announced that his inauguration will be pared-down amid the coronavirus pandemic, as he revealed the senior members of its organising committee.

On Monday, Mr Biden’s transition team announced Tony Allen, who previously worked as a speechwriter for the president-elect, as the chief executive officer of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. The ceremony takes place on 20 January.

Mr Allen, who will lead the team in a personal capacity while working as the president of Delaware State University, said in a statement that the inauguration will be pared-down amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“This year's inauguration will look different amid the pandemic, but we will honour the American inaugural traditions and engage Americans across the country while keeping everybody healthy and safe,” Mr Allen said.

According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 13.3 million people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached 266,887.

Mr Biden’s transition team also announced Maju Varghese, who served as the chief operating officer and a senior adviser on Mr Biden's 2020 presidential campaign, as the committee’s executive director.

While Erin Wilson and Yvanna Cancela were announced as deputy executive directors for the committee on Monday.

Ms Wilson served on Mr Biden's primary and general election campaigns as the national political director, while Ms Cancela is a Democratic state senator in Nevada, who joined the president-elect on several of his campaign stops.

The event is likely to be much smaller this year, as it is expected that less than 1,600 people will be allowed to attend the inauguration, amid the pandemic.

There is also an ongoing discussion about whether those who will stand close to Mr Biden will have to test negative for Covid-19 before attending the event, according to CNN.

During the presidential campaign, Mr Biden said that he did not want to have to wear a mask for the ceremony, but the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies recently determined that all attendees will have to abide by face mask and social distancing guidelines.

The Marine Band, which has played at every inauguration ceremony since 1801, is still scheduled to be a part of the event, while the choir normally positioned behind the president might not attend, according to CNN.

It is currently unclear whether President Donald Trump will attend the inauguration on 20 January, despite Republicans urging him to be there for Mr Biden’s swearing-in.

Senator Roy Blunt, the Missouri Republican who is responsible for overseeing the inauguration, told CNN's Dana Bash on State of the Union on Sunday: “I hope the President is there on Inaugural Day.”

However, Mr Trump has yet to concede and has repeatedly falsely claimed that there was widespread fraud in the election, while White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said earlier this month that he will “attend his own inauguration”.

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