WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - The Secret Service is launching a massive security operation to ensure President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration goes as planned. Now, the big question: Will the National Mall close as an extra layer of protection?
Fencing is now surrounding the National Mall as well as the U.S. Capitol. National Guard members along with thousands of officers are patrolling the area.
The National Park Service says reports earlier Thursday that the decision to shut down the National Mall had already been made were premature. However, they also say such an option is on the table.
FOX 5's Sierra Fox spoke with a security expert who says there are a couple of reasons why this is being taken into consideration.
The first being the COVID-19 pandemic and the concern of a crowd of people gathering together, making the inauguration a super spreader event.
The second factor is threats of violence after the attack on the Capitol just last week. If intelligence shows there are plans for people to commit violent attacks at the inauguration, then it is not worth having a large group of people potentially in harm's way.
The situation is unfortunate since hundreds of thousands of people usually come to see the inauguration and watch history unfold.
FOX 5 spoke to D.C. residents to get their thoughts on the National Mall closing for Inauguration Day.
"I think it’s pretty fair," Will Stoner says. "During COVID, you kind of have to take precautions, but I’d like to be there. It would be cool."
"I don’t disagree with it," says Sam Stoner. "It’s not normal, but nothing is really normal like this."
"I think if we can go to school from home and if we can work from home, we can watch the inauguration from home," says Chris Williams. "I don’t think there’s any reason why we need to be on the mall necessarily given everything that’s going on."
When it comes to communication on Inauguration Day, security measures are also being taken.
A former Secret Service agent says people can expect calls to drop unexpectedly if they are near the president or anyone else under protection during the inauguration to stop any potential bomb from exploding.
On Thursday, Zello, a walkie talkie social media app, announced they discovered rioters who stormed the Capitol used their platform while doing so. They have now deleted more than 2,000 channels associated with militias.