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Park Service to close most parts of National Mall around inauguration
The National Park Service (NPS) announced that it is temporarily closing most parts of the National Mall beginning Friday through at least the day after President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next week.
The announcement comes after the agency initially said Thursday that it had not yet made a final decision on closures after news outlets reported that the entire area would be restricted due to security concerns surrounding inaugural ceremonies.
"We did receive a letter from the U.S. Secret Service yesterday, asking us to consider closing several areas within the National Mall. This is essentially the monumental core area around the White House sections of Pennsylvania Avenue," Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Park, told reporters in a news conference alongside D.C. Mayor Mariel Bowser.
In a press release Friday, the park service announced that at the request and in coordination with the Secret Service, it had decided to "implement a temporary public closure of the National Mall beginning at 11 a.m. on Friday, January 15 and extending through at least Thursday, January 21."
Reinbold said he wanted to "make sure that the icons that we administer are protected and also to make sure that if possible we could allow for first amendment activities in the park."
The release added that permitted protests will be allowed with areas near the U.S. Navy Memorial and John Marshall Park reserved as demonstration areas for those with permits.
"They will be met by us, our police escorted through magnetometers, and then taken to these areas so that they can exercise their first amendment rights. I do again want to thank the park police and the Secret Service for trying to find a way that we could accommodate that. But recognize that these are different times and require different measures," Reinbold said.
The park service added that only a limited number of people will be allowed into these demonstration areas.
Outside of these designated areas, the park service has ordered the temporary closure of all other National Mall property within the "National Special Security Event" area designated by the Department of Homeland Security for Biden's inauguration.
The press release, along with the full Record of Determination for the temporary closure, includes a list of all streets and locations that are included in the restricted areas.
NPS added that all individuals working on the inaugural events must go through a Secret Service clearance process, and an area near the locations reserved for demonstrators will be set aside for members of the media, who are also required to go through a formal clearance process.
Officials have been implementing aggressive security measures in areas surrounding the Capitol and National Mall following last week's violent riot at the Capitol, with the FBI warning of the possibility of continued violence surrounding Biden's inauguration.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is closing more than a dozen stations around the National Mall and Capitol complex in the days before and after the inauguration.
Airbnb also announced on Wednesday that it was canceling all D.C. metro area reservations during the week of Biden's inauguration amid concerns of potentially violent demonstrations.
Updated Friday at 1:38 p.m.