National Mall to be completely closed for Joe Biden’s inauguration amid security concerns

The National Mall in Washington, DC will be completely closed off to the public on Inauguration Day amid ongoing security concerns.

Only security personnel and the media will be allowed to access the traditional gathering place for crowds keen to see the ceremony, according to officials who spoke to The Washington Post.

The extraordinary shutdown of the entire mall for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden comes as the city and federal authorities act to prevent further violence following the 6 January assault on the Capitol Building.

More than 20,000 National Guard troops have been called up to protect the swearing in of the 46th president on Wednesday 20 January.

The Mall is the largest open space in the city, officially stretching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument — though often taken to also include areas to the west up to the Lincoln Memorial.

Shutting it down is particularly significant given the familiar images of crowds of supporters and large screens showing the events of the day up close.

Even before the events of 6 January, the public had been asked not to gather or travel to Washington given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the danger of the inauguration becoming a superspreader event.

Officials have now warned people to stay away for fear of further right-wing attacks and armed protests in the week leading up to Mr Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ swearing in front of the Capitol Building.

A secure zone has been established in downtown Washington, with more than a dozen metro stations set to close to deter people from travelling to the vicinity.

Airbnb is cancelling all reservations in the city ahead of the inauguration.

Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009 is widely regarded to have attracted the largest crowd of any presidential swearing in ceremony, clocking in at an estimated 1.8 million people.

Crowd size estimates for Donald Trump’s inauguration fall between 300,000 and 600,000 people, despite protestations and a series of false statement from both the new president and his then press secretary Sean Spicer.

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