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Inaugural Ceremonies chairman predicts 'socially distanced' inauguration in January

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

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntTrump censure faces tough odds in Senate Senate GOP boxes itself in on impeachment Just five GOP senators vote Trump impeachment trial is constitutional 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 TrumpFBI says California extremist may have targeted Newsom House Democrat touts resolution to expel Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress Facebook to dial back political content on platform MORE or Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat touts resolution to expel Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress Science denialism in the new administration Jill Biden to offer input on helping reunite separated immigrant families: report 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."