Congressional panel announces guest limits at Biden inauguration

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The congressional committee overseeing plans for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration said Wednesday that it would significantly limit the number of guests who can attend the ceremony next month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) said invitations would be limited to each member of Congress and one guest, meaning that 1,070 invitations will be given to members of Congress.

Absent the pandemic, the committee would have distributed 200,000 tickets for the ceremony and given members of Congress ticket bundles for constituents. The committee said it would distribute commemorative ticket bundles and programs to congressional offices following the event.

A letter was sent to each member of Congress on Wednesday advising them of the rules for this year’s inauguration.

“The JCCIC, in consultation with diversified public health and medical experts and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, has determined that this global pandemic and the rise 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,”  Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who chairs the committee, said.

“We are also working on enhanced opportunities to watch the ceremonies online, in addition to the traditional televised national broadcast,” Blunt added.

Biden’s inauguration, which will take place on Jan. 20 at the U.S. Capitol, was already expected to look quite different than the official event has in the past due to COVID-19. The pandemic is currently surging across the United States, with deaths due to the virus exceeding 300,000 this week. Biden has made tackling the pandemic a central focus of his incoming administration.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee, which is planning the inauguration alongside the JCCIC, on Tuesday urged Americans to watch the inaugural activities from their homes  and discouraged the public from traveling to the event.

The committees are likely to announce other health and safety protocols for the event as it draws closer.

Scott Wong contributed. 

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Guests Inauguration Joe Biden Roy Blunt

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