Park service says no final decision on closing National Mall for inauguration

Greg Nash

The National Park Service on Wednesday told The Hill that it has not yet made a final decision on closing the National Mall on Inauguration Day following reports from news outlets that the area would be restricted to select people on Jan. 20.

Mike Litterst, chief of communications for the Park Service’s National Mall and Memorial Parks unit, told The Hill in an email that “no final decision has been made regarding closures on the National Mall for the inaugural events.” 

“When a decision is reached, an announcement will be made by the United States Secret Service and/or National Park Service,” he added. 

This comes after The Washington Post and NBC News reported Wednesday that the Mall would close the day of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. 

The Post cited two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security measures, while NBC attributed the information to two federal officials in different agencies. 

The sources who spoke to the Post added that the only people allowed on the Mall on Jan. 20 will be members of the media and security personnel.

James Harnett, the former commissioner for D.C.’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood, tweeted Wednesday evening that the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) confirmed at a community meeting that the Mall would be closed for inaugural events. 

The Hill has reached out to MPD for comment. 

The reported closure plans are the latest in a series of measures being taken to ensure public safety following last week’s violent pro-Trump mob on the Capitol. The FBI has warned of the possibility of continued violence surrounding Biden’s inauguration.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) on Wednesday announced that Metro would be closing 13 stations inside the inauguration security perimeter, including 11 stations that will close on Friday and two additional ones on Saturday. The closures are expected to last until the day after Biden’s inauguration ceremony. 

WMATA also announced it would be altering 26 bus routes around the security perimeter beginning Friday and lasting through next Thursday. 

This came as Airbnb also announced on Wednesday that it was canceling all Washington, D.C., metro area reservations during the week of Biden’s inauguration amid concerns of potentially violent demonstrations.

FBI Director Christopher Wray in a phone call Wednesday warned police chiefs nationwide to be on high alert and continue sharing intelligence leading up to Biden’s inauguration. 

Last week, a mob of Trump supporters breached the Capitol in what turned into a deadly riot, interrupting Congress as it was certifying the official count of the Electoral College vote. 

The FBI has issued a bulletin warning of armed protests at the U.S. Capitol and in all 50 states leading up to the inauguration. 

More than 20,000 armed National Guardsmen are expected to be in Washington ahead of the inauguration, and troops are already providing security inside the U.S. Capitol.

Rebecca Beitsch contributed to this report, which was updated at 11:41 a.m.

Tags Christopher Wray Department of the Interior Inauguration day Joe Biden National Mall National Mall and Memorial Parks National Parks Service Washignton D.C. Washington
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