The District is done hosting the inauguration for President Joe Biden, but residents should expect anything but normalcy. The public safety emergency over Inauguration Day may expire, but the District is still in the middle of a public health emergency over the coronavirus pandemic.
Restrictions related to inauguration will lift. The Metro stops at Gallery Place and Union Station opened this morning, for example. However, Mayor Muriel Bowser warned last week that security may look different following the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6.
Inauguration Day itself was relatively quiet. It would appear that Bowser’s calls for people to participate in inauguration activities virtually worked. She also had the support of the Biden team. Threats of right-wing extremists showing up and disrupting Inauguration Day never materialized. There were only two Metropolitan Police Department arrests related to the inauguration on Jan. 20, according to the mayor’s office. One arrest was related to unregistered ammunition at Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street NW, and the other related to possession of a BB gun at 19th and H streets NW.
The breakdown of concrete barriers and fencing on major roads downtown will take about 36 hours. Crews started on Inauguration Day, around 6 p.m, according to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio. “They will also begin opening garages that were blocked as a precaution. This will take some time. Give crews time/space to work safely,” he tweeted.
When should residents expect fencing around the U.S. Capitol to be removed? And what about the National Guard members—are they a permanent fixture in D.C. now? “Right now, we are focused on the breakdown of the barriers and fencing around the Central Business District,” Falcicchio tells City Paper. “We will also work with our federal partners to understand their approach on the National Guard presence and the posture at the Capitol and federal assets.”
Meanwhile, restrictions tied to the extended holiday pause are scheduled to lift as planned at 5 a.m. Friday. That includes indoor dining. Restaurants will once again be allowed to seat their dining rooms at 25 percent capacity, according to Falcicchio. He adds that the complete removal of barriers and fences should coincide with the lifting of in-door dining restrictions. While restaurant owners may be rejoicing about getting back some limited revenue-earning potential, the public is expressing concerns on social media that the move is premature based on current COVID-19 data. When the mayor extended the end of the holiday pause from Jan. 15 to Jan. 22, she cited both public safety and public health concerns. The question is whether both of these threats have been eliminated.
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