What will the crowd size at Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20 look like?

Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY
·2 min read

WASHINGTON – In 2017, one of the first controversies of President Donald Trump's administration came when he and his press secretary boasted falsely that Trump had the largest crowd to witness an inauguration.

This year, President-elect Joe Biden is deliberately keeping the inauguration a small affair, with the inauguration's planners looking for ways to continue traditions while keeping people safe amid the pandemic that has killed more than 399,000 people in the USA.

Biden inauguration: Events to include memorial ceremony for COVID-19 victims on Jan. 19

Biden has urged Americans to stay home during the inauguration to avoid the risk of spreading the coronavirus, and instead join in the celebration virtually.

"There are many grand traditions to the inaugural, and we plan to honor them by highlighting more of our nation’s people than ever before while keeping everyone safe," said Tony Allen, the inaugural committee’s chief executive officer.

The day will consist of the swearing-in ceremony, a visit to Arlington Cemetery, a virtual parade and a prime-time special in lieu of the traditional inaugural balls.

Presidential inaugurations typically are attended by hundreds of dignitaries – including former presidents, Supreme Court justices and members of Congress – while hundreds of thousands of spectators spill out across the National Mall to witness the ceremonies. This year, Trump has said he will not attend the inauguration, breaking with longstanding tradition. Vice President Mike Pence is set to attend.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 14: Workers put up "Biden-Harris" branded bunting on a press riser along the inaugural parade route near the White House on January 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. Thousands of National Guard troops have been activated to protect the nation's capital against threats surrounding President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration and to prevent a repeat of last weeks deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775611127 ORIG FILE ID: 1230585447
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 14: Workers put up "Biden-Harris" branded bunting on a press riser along the inaugural parade route near the White House on January 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. Thousands of National Guard troops have been activated to protect the nation's capital against threats surrounding President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration and to prevent a repeat of last weeks deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775611127 ORIG FILE ID: 1230585447

Tickets for this year's ceremony will be limited. In the past, members of Congress have received about 200,000 tickets to distribute to their constituents for the swearing-in. This year, they will be limited to tickets for themselves and one guest.

Rep. James Clyburn, co-chair of the Biden inaugural committee, said he expects somewhere around a couple of thousand people to attend.

However, Washington is preparing for the possibility that violent protesters might flock to the capital for Biden's inauguration, which will occur two weeks after a pro-Trump mob rioted at the Capitol, believing claims that Trump had won the election over Biden.

Metro stations across the city will be closed, and members of the National Guard will be stationed near the Capitol.

What we know about weekend protests: National Mall closed; states brace for possible violence

Contributing: Michael Collins, Savannah Behrmann

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden inauguration: Small crowd size planned for COVID safety