Biden Inaugural Audience Will Be ‘State of the Union’-Sized, Senator Says

President-elect Joe Biden will take the oath of office in January in front of a restricted audience that will look more like an address to Congress than a public presidential inauguration, the chairman of the congressional committee planning the event said Wednesday.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies said it would limit the crowd size because of the coronavirus pandemic after consulting with public health experts.

Senator Roy Blunt, the Republican chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, said the recent spike in Covid-19 cases “warranted a difficult decision to limit attendance at the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies to a live audience that resembles a State of the Union.”

The inaugural committee usually issues 200,000 tickets to the event, most of which are distributed through members of Congress to give to constituents, with additional standing-room capacity for more than 1 million people on the National Mall.

The Jan. 20 ceremony will remain on the West Front of the Capitol, where it’s been since Ronald Reagan’s inaugural in 1981, but each member of the next Congress will get a ticket for just themselves and one guest. They could still distribute commemorative programs and ticket replicas to constituents. The committee is also exploring ways to make the ceremonies more interactive for a remote audience.

The Biden-Harris Presidential Inauguration Committee, the private group responsible for planning Inauguration Day events away from Capitol, urged people not to come to Washington for the event on Tuesday.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, the ranking Democrat on the congressional inauguration-planning committee, said interest in attending Biden’s inauguration is high. “At the same time, safety must be our top priority,” she said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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