No 'gigantic' inaugural parade, Biden plans scaled-down ceremony to avoid COVID spread

No 'gigantic' inaugural parade, Biden plans scaled-down ceremony to avoid COVID spread
US President-elect Joe Biden

Washington: US President-elect Joe Biden has said the presidential inauguration on January 20 will not be a "gigantic" event, but something closer to what the Democratic convention was like, with a lot of virtual activity across America and an emphasis on safety due to the raging coronavirus pandemic.

Biden said he expected to be sworn in on January 20 on the platform already being constructed on the steps of the US Capitol, but plans to avoid the crowds that typically gather on the National Mall and along Pennsylvania Avenue to view the ceremony and parade that attracts millions of people.

"My guess is there probably will not be a gigantic inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Avenue, but my guess is you'll see a lot of virtual activity in states all across America engaging even more people than before. That's in train now and I'm not in a position to give you an example of exactly what it will look like," he said when asked about the inauguration planning at a news conference on Friday in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

"But, I promise you, it'll be available either virtually or in-person for many and my guess is, there will still be a platform ceremony, but I don't know exactly how it's all going to work out. The key is keeping people safe," he said.

Biden, 78, suggested that the festivities could end up looking like the virtual convention Democrats held in August, with online activity in the states.

"We are in discussion with the House leadership and the Senate leadership as to what they plan for the inauguration, particularly those 200,000 spots they control. But I think you're going to see something that's closer to what the convention was like than typical inauguration," he said.

The former vice president said that his first and foremost objective was to keep people safe but also allow them to celebrate, to celebrate and see one another celebrating.

"So, we're in consultation. My team is in consultation with folks who help us put on the convention, as well as with our colleagues, Republican, and Democratic colleagues, in charge of the inauguration," he said.

Asserting that he can't do a super version of the president's announcement in the Rose Garden nationwide, Biden said it will have to be more imaginative.

"But, the convention we put on really opened up avenues that we never thought existed and I doubt there will be another at least the Democratic Convention, that it's straight like it always has been, he said.

The swearing-in ceremony and a lunch for the new president and vice president are held at the Capitol.

Recent American presidents have been sworn in at an outdoor ceremony at the US Capitol attended by their predecessor.

US President Donald Trump, who has refused to concede the election, has not said if he will attend the ceremony. The Trump campaign has filed a slew of lawsuits across the United States in an attempt to turn his defeat in the November 3 election into a victory. Except for one, all have been rejected by the courts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 273,000 people in the US and cases and hospitalisations are surging as the winter months approach.

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