8 ways the presidential inauguration will be different due to COVID-19 restrictions

For weeks, Joe Biden's transition team prepared for festivities that will be mostly virtual. Here are some ways the inauguration will be different.

News 12 Staff

Jan 19, 2021, 9:40 AM

Updated 1,241 days ago


The presidential inauguration is set to be different from the past due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. 
For weeks, Joe Biden's transition team prepared for festivities that will be mostly virtual. Here are some ways the inauguration will be different:


Joe Biden and Kamala Harris aim to take their oaths of office outside the U.S. Capitol building as inauguration planners seek to craft an event that captures the traditional grandeur of the historic ceremony while complying with COVID-19 protocols.


The event will only have about 1,000 people in attendance. Normally, 200,000 tickets are distributed to members of Congress for their constituents.


Following the swearing-in ceremony on the west front of the U.S. Capitol, Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, will join Harris and her husband in participating in a socially distanced Pass in Review on the Capitol's opposite front side. Those are military traditions where Biden will review the readiness of military troops.


Biden will also receive a traditional presidential escort with representatives from every branch of the military from 15th Street in Washington to the White House. That, the Presidential Inaugural Committee says, will be socially distanced too.


The inauguration will include a "virtual parade across America” consistent with crowd limits during the coronavirus era. Organizers say the parade will “celebrate America’s heroes, highlight Americans from all walks of life in different states and regions, and reflect on the diversity, heritage, and resilience of the country as we begin a new American era.” The parade event will be televised and feature “diverse, dynamic” performances in communities across the country. 


After he is officially inaugurated, Biden, Vice President-elect Harris and their spouses will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, and will be joined there by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and their wives. It will be one of Biden’s first acts as president, and a show of bipartisanship at a time when the national divide is on stark display.


There are also plans for a major public art display spanning multiple blocks of the National Mall that will feature 191,500 U.S. flags and 56 pillars of light, to represent every U.S. state and territory. After Biden asked Americans to stay home for his inauguration, the “Field of Flags” is meant to represent “the American people who are unable to travel” to the Capitol to celebrate his swearing-in, according to the committee.


The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) announced that Lady Gaga will sing the National Anthem at the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 20.  Jennifer Lopez is also set for a "musical performance," adding celebrity power to the swearing-in event. Amanda Gorman will give a poetry reading. Read more here.  The committee also announced that Inauguration Day will conclude with a prime-time program, “Celebrating America,” which will take place at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT.  

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