By the time Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, downtown D.C. will resemble a post-apocalyptic party zone. In the aftermath of a pro-Trump mob’s unprecedented takeover of the U.S. Capitol, federal and state authorities have ordered more than 20,000 National Guard troops — about four times as many as the U.S. has stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined — to protect the seat of American democracy during the ceremonial transition period. District residents, 92 percent of which voted for Biden, would normally be inclined to celebrate. The FBI warned that more extremist groups were planning armed marches and other demonstrations nationwide leading up to the big event at noon Wednesday, January 20, but as of Monday, a coordinated effort hadn’t appeared in the District. Still, many of the public spaces D.C. is known for, particularly around the Capitol, the National Mall, and downtown, are closed off. Here’s a look at what to know, where to eat, and where to avoid on Inauguration Day.
Are restaurants open?
Per the latest emergency order from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, restaurants in the city are closed for indoor dining through January 21, but many are offering cheeky themed cocktails and other specials for takeout and delivery. Many restaurants surrounding downtown and Capitol Hill are opting to close as a safety precaution for workers and customers, so walk-in customers should check availability online before attempting to order.
What restaurants are offering special takeout and drinks?
How are restaurants and bars affected this year?
Where should people shop to toast the new President?
What is shut down?
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has urged residents to stay away from downtown. Starting Friday, January 15, all parking garages are closed between 19th and 14th Streets NW and K Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Read a full list of street closures here.
If you live, work, or plan to visit the Washington, D.C. area during #Inauguration2021, check out the latest road closure map. Stay up-to-date on #Inauguration security information: https://t.co/rQ0TwUnbJc pic.twitter.com/sYV3BBr4yK— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) January 18, 2021
The National Park service has closed the National Mall to the public, cutting off grassy expanses spanning from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial.
Transportation authority WMATA announced it will close 13 Metro stations from Saturday through Thursday: Metro Center, Gallery Place, Farragut North, Judiciary Square, Union Station, Archives, Arlington Cemetery, Farragut West, McPherson Square, Federal Center SW, Capitol South, Smithsonian, and Federal Triangle.
The U.S. Secret Service has closed traffic on bridges connecting Virginia to D.C. from Tuesday, January 19, until 6 a.m. Thursday. The Arlington Memorial bridge is closed entirely. Inbound traffic to D.C. is shut off on the Theodore Roosevelt bridge, I-395 and 14th Street NW, 695 and 11th Street, South Capitol Street, and the John Phillip Sousa bridge (Pennsylvania Avenue). The Key Bridge is open, but access to Whitehurst Freeway and M Street NW is closed. Essential workers who need to get into the city for work are supposed to enter D.C. by taking 295 North to E. Capitol Street., Benning Road, or New York Avenue (Route 50).
Airbnb announced it is canceling all reservations in the D.C. metro area. Unite Here Local 25, a 7,500-member union for hotel, restaurant, and casino workers, issued a statement pressuring D.C. hotels to close unless they were housing security personnel. “No worker, Union or non-Union, should have to risk their life to go into work. Unfortunately, that is the situation we are now faced with,” a statement from the executive-secretary treasurer of the D.C. chapter says. Local activists with Black Lives Matter D.C. and ShutDownDC have also called for hotels to close. Bowser had said she would consider forcing hotels to shut down but ultimately decided against it.
We are calling on hotels in the DC region to close ahead of inauguration, unless they are hosting security personnel. Any hotel that stays open must permit workers to stay home and/or leave the moment they feel unsafe. Our full statement ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/SB1Tfwanfs— UNITE HERE Local 25 (@DCHotelworkers) January 13, 2021
What do we know about pro-Trump protests?
While military personnel set up checkpoints and deployed armored vehicles around downtown, the National Mall, and the Capitol over the weekend, no armed march materialized in D.C. on Sunday. There were small demonstrations, however, in capital cities in Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, and Oregon.
Police arrested a 22-year-old Trump supporter from Virginia on Sunday for bringing high-capacity magazines, unregistered ammunition, and a pistol near the Capitol. Police at the complex also arrested a woman for impersonating an officer.
Experts who monitor extremist movements online tell DCist there does not appear to be a large, coordinated movement to descend on the city for Inauguration Day, but smaller group or individuals may still pose a threat.