This story is part of, CNET’s coverage of the voting in November and its aftermath.
President-elect Joe Biden has already started laying out plans for. But before the new administration gets to work in 2021, everything will kick off with an inauguration at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, where Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in. The 59th Inaugural Ceremonies are expected to look noticeably different than years past due to surging COVID-19 cases. Here’s what we know so far.
When is the inauguration?
The inauguration will take place Wednesday, Jan. 20, on the west front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Each elected US president’s term starts at noon on that day, according to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. The president-elect is required to take the oath of office before assuming duties. Following the presidential swearing-in ceremony, Biden will deliver his inaugural address.
What time will it be and how can I watch?
No exact air time has been announced just yet, though opening remarks historically take place around 11:30 ET/8:30 a.m. PT. The inauguration is likely to be streamed by every major news station, in addition to being shared on platforms like Facebook Live, Twitter and YouTube. It will be impossible to miss, but we’ll update this information when we know more.
How do I get tickets?
Traditionally, members of the public request free tickets through the office of their US senator or representative, but not this year. Due to COVID-19 concerns, Americans won’t be able to get tickets, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) announced in mid-December.
“The JCCIC, in consultation with diversified public health and medical experts and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, has determined that this global pandemic and the rise in COVID-19 cases warranted a difficult decision to limit attendance at the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies to a live audience that resembles a State of the Union,” said JCCIC Chairman Roy Blunt.
“We are also working on enhanced opportunities to watch the ceremonies online, in addition to the traditional televised national broadcast.”
This time around, invitations to members of Congress will be limited to themselves and one guest. Commemorative ticket bundles and program packets will be made available to congressional offices for constituents following the ceremonies.
What’s the theme of the inauguration?
The theme for the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies is “Our Determined Democracy: Forging a More Perfect Union.”
“The inaugural events are not only a hallmark of American governance and democracy, but also fulfill our Constitutional duty and give assurance — for all people — of our continued and unbroken commitment to continuity, stability, perseverance, and democracy,” Blunt said.
Will President Donald Trump be there?
It’s unclear whether he’ll be in attendance. Traditionally, though, former presidents do attend the inauguration of the president-elect. This includes the unseated president, as well as presidents from previous terms.
Have the speakers been announced?
Not yet. Inaugurations typically include appearances by A-list musicians and performers. Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, for instance, featured Aretha Franklin, while his second had Beyoncé and Kelly Clarkson. Trump’s inauguration featured a performance by America’s Got Talent winner Jackie Evancho. Politicians and religious leaders — including archbishops, pastors and rabbis — also usually give speeches.
What will Biden do first?
The president-elect’s says one of his biggest priorities is working to tackle COVID-19. Biden and Harris have already announced the formation of a COVID-19 advisory board to help shape the upcoming administration’s response to the pandemic. The board consists of 13 public health experts and will be led by co-chairs Dr. David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner; Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former US surgeon general; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a researcher at Yale university.
Biden has also unveiled a plan that aims to ensure the US achieves a 100% clean-energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050. During the presidential debates,, which the US withdrew from under Trump. He reiterated that promise in his climate plan.