WASHINGTON — Welcome back to Washington, Joe.
The congressional committee planning Joe Biden’s inauguration festivities have canceled a traditional luncheon for the new president, citing concerns over COVID-19.
According to a Bloomberg report, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies had intended to host the event with social-distancing protocols but nixed the luncheon after speaking with Biden’s inauguration team.
“The health and safety of all guests attending the ceremonies has remained a top priority throughout the planning process,” Paige Waltz, a spokeswoman for the congressional committee, told the publication.
The Inauguration Luncheon is a tradition which dates back to 1897 and is a lunch for the new president and lawmakers when the commander in chief takes the oath of office.
Biden will experience a very low-key welcome to Washington as coronavirus infections continue to rise across the country.
The enormous parades and crowds enjoyed by past presidents will not greet Biden after his inaugural committee asked supporters not to visit Washington, D.C., and teased a “reimagined” parade amid the health crisis.
“President-elect Biden and Vice-President-elect Harris will take their oaths of office at the U.S. Capitol during a historic ceremony that includes vigorous health and safety protocols,” the inaugural committee confirmed in a press release.
“The ceremony’s footprint will be extremely limited, and the parade that follows will be reimagined. The [committee] is urging the public to refrain from any travel and [to] participate in the inaugural activities from home.”