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Biden to launch inaugural events in ceremony honoring Covid-19 victims

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will arrive in the nation’s capital on Tuesday evening for a groundbreaking ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in honor of the nearly 400,000 people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic which will be his first priority afterwards he takes the oath the next day.

The grim memory will kick off two days of in-person and virtual events as Mr. Biden takes the oath of office on January 20, becoming the 46th President of the United States at a time of economic struggle and cultural upheaval in the sequel to President Trump’s Four Years in the White House.

Mr Biden planned a mix of festive and upbeat events to mark the occasion – singer Garth Brooks was the latest addition to the list of those performing at his swearing-in ceremony – as well as more serious moments aimed at to mark difficult times. that many Americans face when he takes office.

Instead of an in-person parade along Pennsylvania Avenue, Mr. Biden’s inaugural committee on Monday provided details of a “virtual parade across America” ​​that will begin at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. swearing-in by Mr. Biden.

The parade will begin with Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris heading to the White House escorted by battery lines from the University of Delaware and Howard University, their alma maters. The virtual “parade” will feature performances by the United States Coast Guard Band and the US Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, as well as marching bands, drill crews, boy scouts, dancers and drummers from across the country.

The events will be streamed live on multiple platforms, officials said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, along with their families, will be in attendance as 400 lights are turned on to illuminate the perimeter of the Reflecting Pool. Each light is believed to represent approximately 1,000 Americans who will have perished from the virus by the time it is sworn in.

This event will kick off “A Moment of National Unity” at 5:30 p.m. EST, which will feature commemorations similar to the Empire State Building, the Space Needle in Seattle and other landmarks across the country, with events also planned in Mr. Biden’s hometowns. , Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Del.

The inauguration “marks the start of a new national journey – one that renews its commitment to honor its dead and rise to greater heights in their honor,” said Inaugural Committee CEO Tony Allen, president of Delaware State University, in a statement. declaration.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, will deliver the invocation at the Lincoln Memorial event. Two acclaimed gospel singers, Yolanda Adams and Lori Marie Key, will perform at the commemoration.

In recent days, committee staff have reached out to church and civic leaders across the country to participate in the memorial, with a particular focus on involving black and Latin communities, who have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic. .

Mr Biden said reaching out to those who oppose his candidacy will be a central theme of his inaugural address as he urges a divided America to come together to face the pandemic and other challenges.

On Monday, officials announced that Mr. Brooks would perform on Wednesday afternoon, adding to a growing list of celebrities who will be on hand to usher in the Biden era. During a briefing with reporters, Mr Brooks said he was honored to participate in the peaceful transfer of power.

“I just feel lucky to be able to be a part of it,” Mr. Brooks said. “And what the administration is doing now, the main message is unity. Right in my alley, because I think if we’re going to go somewhere, we’ll get there together.

The Biden transition ›

Answers to your questions on the opening day:

Joseph R. Biden Jr. will become President of the United States at noon on January 20 in a scaled-down dedication ceremony. While the key elements will remain traditional, many events will be scaled down and “redesigned” to better tailor the celebration to a nation battling the coronavirus. Mr. Biden will be sworn in by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on the Western Front of the Capitol sometime before noon. The new president is then expected to deliver his inaugural address and conduct a review of military troops, as tradition dictates. But instead of a traditional parade before cheering onlookers along Pennsylvania Avenue as the new president, vice president and their families make their way to the White House more than a mile away, there will be an official escort with representatives from each branch of the military for one. a block.

President Trump announced on Friday that he would not attend Mr. Biden’s inauguration. Mr Biden called the move “one of the few things he and I have ever agreed on. Yet it is a major break with the tradition for a president to skip the ceremonial heart of the country’s democracy: the peaceful transfer of power.

George W. Bush, has confirmed that he will travel to Washington for the day of the inauguration, with Laura Bush, the former first lady. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are also expected to attend, along with former First Ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. This year tickets are not available to members of the public. Planners are urging people to stay home and participate in virtual inaugural events to prevent large crowds who could easily spread the coronavirus. The events will be broadcast live by the inaugural presidential committee and the New York Times.

The 20th Amendment to the Constitution requires that the term of office of each elected president and vice-president begin at noon on January 20 of the year following the election. Each president has taken an oath and he cannot assume his duties without doing so. Symbolically, it marks the peaceful transfer of power from the current president to the next. Inauguration day will be all the more important this year as Mr Biden ascends to the presidency at a time when political division has threatened the country’s democratic institutions and his predecessor has made extreme efforts to stay in power.

Mr Brooks declined to say what he would sing at the inauguration, but said he likely would not rehearse his interpretation of “We Shall Be Free”, which he sang at the President’s inauguration. Barack Obama 12 years ago.

“There are a lot of songs of love and unity that you can choose from, from the greatest writers you know in the world,” he said. “Because we are all humans. We live within the border of the United States, but the truth is, the message that comes to us is passed on to all of us around the world.

Mr Biden spent about 45 minutes Monday morning volunteering at a food bank in Philadelphia to mark the National Day of Service and Martin Luther King’s birthday.

The president-elect worked on a conveyor belt assembling food boxes at Philabundance, an organization founded in 1984 that distributes food to pantries and emergency shelters in nine counties in Pennsylvania, according to the transition team from Mr. Biden.

Wearing a black mask, a Philabundance baseball cap and his aviator sunglasses, Mr. Biden placed cans, two at a time, in each box of food. And Jill Biden, who will become the first lady on Wednesday, added packets of rice to the boxes as disco music played over speakers.

Mr Biden’s decision to volunteer at the food bank on Monday was consistent with many of his predecessors on both sides who frequently engaged in a public service event over the holidays. Mr. Trump largely ignored the vacation service component. In 2018, he was criticized for playing golf instead.

Mr. Trump’s public schedule for Monday indicated, as has been the case on most days in recent weeks, that he planned to “work from early in the morning until late in the evening” and “make a lot of calls. and to hold many meetings ”.

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Kennedy Center to honor Dick Van Dyke and others at scaled-down events

After Dick Van Dyke got the call informing him that he had been chosen as the Kennedy Center Fellow, he did exactly what he was told not to do: he called his family to tell them about the good news.

And why not? He is a 95-year-old show business statesman whose eponymous television show is believed to have helped shape American sitcoms for decades.

“My wife took the call and the instructions were, ‘Congratulations, but don’t tell anyone,’” Van Dyke said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “You can not do this! I immediately called all my relatives. I couldn’t hold it back.

Van Dyke is now adding one of the country’s highest artistic accolades to his curriculum vitae. Other recipients, announced Wednesday by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, include singer-songwriter and activist Joan Baez; country music star Garth Brooks; actress, choreographer and producer Debbie Allen; and violinist Midori.

Last year, the pandemic blurred the Kennedy Center Honors’ schedule. Typically held in December, the performances and ceremonies associated with the show have been postponed to May, with airing scheduled for June 6 on CBS.

Another major change is the shifting political winds: While President Trump did not attend honors during his tenure or host the traditional White House reception for the laureates, President-elect Biden is expected to rekindle the relationship.

In a typical year, the program features an opera house filled with celebrities, dignitaries and plush donors to celebrate the winners. This year, the performances will be filmed on the Kennedy Center campus – some, perhaps, with a small audience – or the film crew will visit the artists if they can’t make it to Washington.

The center hopes to have its typical reception at the White House and a ceremony at the State Department, where the ribbons are distributed.

But some traditions are out of the question.

“A dinner with 2,000 people in the lobby will not take place,” said Deborah Rutter, president of the Kennedy Center. “We are only going to do this in the safest and most respectful way.”

The winners – selected on the recommendation of an advisory committee made up of representatives from the Kennedy Center and past award recipients – represent folk, country and classical music, as well as theater and television.

Baez’s career as a singer-songwriter has long been linked to her political activism, which began with the civil rights movement and then the anti-war protests. Baez, 80, says she now sees painting as her main artistic outlet. As for her legacy, she would rather be remembered for “good issues,” she said, citing Rep. John Lewis, rather than for awards.

“I don’t want to be too respectable,” she said in an interview and laughed. “But I accept and I guess the ‘good stuff’ I’ve been in my life in is part of why I’m getting this award.”

While these laureates have long passed the “struggling artists” stage of their careers, they are not lost in the fact that they are receiving this award during times of crisis in their industries, due to closures due to a pandemic. .

Brooks – who is the No. 1 best-selling solo artist in US history, according to the Recording Industry Association of America – said he feared for musicians who occupy the position he held there is 30 years old, playing in bars and clubs. with the hope that this leads to a recording contract.

“The carpet was pulled out from under them,” said Brooks, 58. “How this will affect the music industry in the future is a big question.”

Over the past 10 months, these five artists have been looking for safe ways to share their art and interact with their audiences. Baez has exhibited his paintings virtually, for example; Allen gave live dance lessons to a virtual audience of over 35,000 people; and Van Dyke said he was delighted to learn from fan mail that some kids back from school found out about “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. (“I have a whole new fan club!” He said.)

For Midori, 49, a Japanese-born violinist who rose to prominence in the United States after performing with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 11, the pandemic has brought greater appreciation for playing. in front of an audience, in flesh and blood. She gave virtual workshops and master classes during the pandemic.

“It made me realize how precious the moments of being able to do things live are,” she says.

At a time when the country is somewhat of a wasteland for the performing arts, there is a desire that this spring honors program usher in some kind of rebirth.

Allen, 70, has a long history of promoting the arts as a core national interest. After establishing herself as a Broadway performer, being recognized for her roles in “West Side Story” and “Sweet Charity,” then for her choreography “Fame,” Allen was a sort of cultural diplomat under President George W. Bush, traveling abroad to teach and talk about dance.

Allen said that in times of national crisis, she sees the arts as a balm – as well as a space to discuss the pressing issues of the day. (In “Grey’s Anatomy,” in which Allen produces, directs, and stars, Covid-19 is the central plot.)

“As a country, we are all looking for the light because such a storm takes over,” Allen said. “And the arts are always an answer.”

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Virus outbreak obscures Trump and Biden campaign events after final debate

“You heard some horns,” he added. “Honk, honk. This is the strangest thing.

From there, Mr. Trump traveled to Circleville, Ohio, outside of Columbus, and then to Waukesha, Wisconsin, as he sought to rally support in the suburbs where polls show his support has plummeted. On Sunday, he’ll fly to New Hampshire, the only state on his weekend itinerary that he didn’t complete in 2016 and which is part of a hopscotch program reminiscent of his last heavy push four ago. years.

But the virus outbreak ensured that even Mr. Trump’s well-attended rallies could be a political responsibility, a reminder to pandemic-fearing voters of his consistent disregard for expert and public health advice. Mr Trump used his own contraction of the disease, his weekend of hospitalization and subsequent recovery as an argument to downplay the severity of a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 224,000 people in the United States over more than eight million cases.

“By the way, I had it, here I am,” he said.

Mr. Trump started his day in Florida, where he joined the over 56 million Americans who have already voted. He voted in person at the Palm Beach County Main Library, saying, “I voted for a guy named Trump.”

Subsequently, he also continued to baselessly question the integrity of the election and in particular the postal ballots. “It’s the only way we can lose,” Mr. Trump said, citing the size of the crowds at his rallies. Most polls show Mr. Trump is lagging behind by a considerable margin nationally and in many critical battlefield states.

Mr Biden’s full day in Pennsylvania was a sign of the state’s critical importance in his Electoral College calculations. After his rally in Bucks County – which Hillary Clinton won by less than a percentage point in 2016 – he flew to Luzerne County in the northeastern part of the state, where he has organized a driving rally which included a performance by singer Jon Bon Jovi. Luzerne County sits near Mr. Biden’s hometown of Scranton, and it’s a historically Democratic county that Mr. Trump toppled from afar in 2016.

Still, the day had its thorny moments. In a local TV interview, Mr Biden intervened when a reporter began asking about the “controversy” and his son Hunter Biden. “There is no controversy about my son,” Mr. Biden said. “Everything is a lie. It’s a simple lie, because the president has nothing else to run on.

Impacting Travel

CHLA publishes health standards for hotel meetings and events in California

The California Hotel and Lodging Association (CHLA) today unveiled its new set of recommended health and safety protocols ‘Clean + Safe Guidance for Meetings and Events’ for hotels operating amid COVID-19 .

CHLA’s new guidance incorporates recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DCD), California Department of Public Health, and Cal / OSHA and should be considered in addition to the CHLA resource ‘Clean + Safe Guide to hotel industry ‘which is geared towards hoteliers serving individual travelers.


Being a trend now

COVID-19 reopening

“With our meeting protocols, California hotels will be ready to host safe one-on-one meetings when state and county health officials allow, hopefully soon,” said Lynn S. Mohrfeld, CHLA president and CEO. “California hotels did an outstanding job protecting guests and employees when they reopened for tourism in June and we are confident that our meeting guide will similarly ensure the well-being of attendees.”

The 11-page guidance document outlines the steps to properly plan ahead, implement improved communications, and embrace adaptability, as hotels begin to personalize offerings for “group” clients such as corporations, businesses, associations, charities, meetings. religious and others.

The new standards encompass operational adjustments that aim to prevent any potential viral transmission, including electronic registration, attendee arrival procedures, increased reliance on contactless presentation technology, breaks to disinfect spaces, use of multiple rooms for a event only, assigned seats, and contactless and cashless transactions.

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