The National Park Service says it’s still deciding whether to allow the public onto the National Mall during President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration amid threats of violence akin to the Capitol siege last week.
The Park Service on Thursday denied a report that a decision already has been made to exclude the public from the vast grassy expanse, where thousands of people traditionally watch the swearing-in.
Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said, “No final decision has been made regarding closures on the National Mall for the inaugural events,”
Litterst said that “[w]hen a decision is reached, an announcement will be made by the United States Secret Service and/or National Park Service.”
The Secret Service is the lead agency coordinating Biden’s inauguration.
Biden has encouraged supporters to remain home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But there’s concern that supporters of President Trump who stormed the Capitol last week may return to try to impede Biden’s inauguration.
Trump was impeached Wednesday for allegedly inciting the mob violence, which left five people dead and disrupted certification of Biden’s win. Trump’s Senate trial is expected to begin during Biden’s first week in office and could ban him from holding office, although his being convicted in the Senate is considered unlikely.
As a precaution, Airbnb canceled DC-area reservations during the inauguration.
It’s unclear what access if any the public will have to Pennsylvania Avenue. Although there won’t be a traditional parade due to the pandemic, Biden is expected to drive from the Capitol to the White House along the street.
Typically, the public is allowed to watch the procession up Pennsylvania Avenue and sometimes there is unrest or violence along the route. In 2001, opponents of President George W. Bush threw eggs at his limo.