Inaugural Ceremonies chairman predicts 'socially distanced' inauguration in January

Inaugural Ceremonies chairman predicts 'socially distanced' inauguration in January
© Greg Nash

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntHartzler pulls in 6,000 for Missouri Senate bid with .65M on hand McConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (R-Mo.), who chairs a bicameral panel tasked with planning the 59th inaugural ceremony, predicted that the January inauguration would likely include some social distancing measures because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Blunt, during a Washington Post Live event this week, said the ceremony, weather permitting, will be outside, but "it will probably look different ... than it's looked in quite a while."

"Clearly something we're thinking about. I think we'll be outside ... and my guess is we'll be outside in some sort of socially distanced way," he said.

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Blunt's spot as chairman of the Senate Rules Committee also makes him the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. The bicameral committee, which also includes congressional leadership, formally started its work for the 2021 presidential inauguration in late June when it approved its budget.

The planning for the inauguration comes as Washington, D.C., is still under some coronavirus restrictions, including a ban on mass gatherings of more than 50 people and quarantine requirements for travelers from some states. The Capitol complex has also been under restricted access, with size limits on official visits with offices and a ban on all tours.

Lawmakers will have to work with either President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE or Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Fill the Eastern District of Virginia  Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE, with Blunt predicting there would be "vigorous discussions" and that they would "have some input there."

"And we need to try to deal with that input," he said.

The coronavirus has dramatically altered the 2020 presidential election, including throwing a curveball into on-the-ground campaigning and forcing both parties to transition to largely virtual conventions.

But Blunt stressed that the inauguration would still take place, arguing that it gives America the chance to be "that lesson to the world of how democracies are supposed to operate."