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Inauguration Day is five days away. Law enforcement, from Metropolitan Police Department officers to National Guard troops, line the streets around the U.S. Capitol and White House. Downtown D.C. is a place of plywood and concrete barriers. The District is under a state of emergency until Jan. 24. Expect interruptions to daily life until the inauguration is over.
How exactly is the inauguration going to disrupt District life? Here is what we know as of this early afternoon:
First, the ceremony itself: A mix of in-person and virtual events are planned for the 59th presidential inauguration. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies says there will be just over 1,000 attendees as opposed to the usual 200,000. It’s unclear how many will informally attend, but the public is encouraged to participate virtually. Watch on the JCCIC website or YouTube. Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez will be headlining President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. Biden is expected to be sworn in on the west side of the Capitol building.
Law enforcement: Given that right-wing extremists warned they’d come for inauguration two weeks after the Capitol insurrection, officials say the public should expect about 20,000 National Guard members in D.C. The US Secret Service is taking the lead on inauguration security. Police Chief Robert Contee says MPD is set up to respond to any issues across the city.
Planned rallies: At a Friday press conference, Jeff Reinbold, Superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks at the National Park Service, said several groups submitted First Amendment requests. NPS has identified two locations on Pennsylvania Ave. where up to 100 people can gather and will be met by Park Police.
Travel: Mayor Muriel Bowser is discouraging travel into the District for the inauguration. Even our neighbors are discouraging their respective residents from traveling here, a highly unusual move given how porous the borders are. “Marylanders, avoid travel to Washington, D.C. from 1/16 through 1/21,” says Maryland’s emergency management agency. Airlines are on edge, taking various precautions. A string of airlines, including Delta, American, and United, will not let travelers to D.C. check firearms.
Closures: Roads are closed, as are a number of businesses. A lot of parking garages near the Capitol and White House are closed. Some of the road closures related to the inauguration are on Google Maps.
An unknown number of businesses are closing for inauguration. Even businesses miles away from the Capitol, like the bar Red Derby, located in Columbia Heights, are closing on Jan. 20 due to safety concerns.
The hotel workers union called on hoteliers to temporarily shut their doors, unless they are hosting security personnel. Some, including the LINE Hotel, have already decided to close. Earlier in the week, Airbnb announced they’d cancel all D.C. reservations during inauguration week.
An inauguration perimeter was set up around the Capitol, White House, and other parts of downtown. The mayor warned anyone entering the perimeter could be subject to screening. Some residents report being asked for ID. This is similar to past inaugurations, except now it’ll be operational for a lot longer. The National Mall is closed to the general public beginning Friday, Jan. 15 to at least Thursday, Jan. 21. Inauguration events and permitted protests are allowed. The Secret Service recommends that residents who must be downtown communicate with building managers.
Metro: These 11 stations are closed beginning Friday, Jan. 15: Archives, Arlington Cemetery, Capitol South, Farragut North, Farragut West, Federal Center SW, Federal Triangle, Judiciary Square, McPherson Square, Smithsonian, and Union Station. Metro Center and Gallery Place will also be closed starting Saturday, so trains will pass through the stations without stopping. Buses will operate normally except on Inauguration Day.
Interested in more updates? Text INAUG2021 to 888-777 for public safety and transportation updates. Local public safety agencies are also hosting a telephone town hall on inauguration this afternoon at 4:30 p.m.
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