City of Alexandria Prepares for Presidential Inauguration; Urges Community to Observe Virtually and Avoid Washington, D.C

An Alexandria Police Department cruiser in Old Town. (Photo by James Cullum for The Zebra Press)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The City of Alexandria is preparing for activities surrounding the nation’s 59th presidential inauguration on Wednesday, January 20. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns stemming from the recent violence at the U.S. Capitol, the City joins state officials and regional leaders in urging the public to observe safely at home and not visit Washington, D.C. over the next week.

“The past year has been unlike any other in many ways,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “What hasn’t changed is that every four years, America recognizes the democratic transition of power from one presidential term to the next. Because we are still in an active public health emergency and a federal state of emergency, this observance will take place individually rather than in crowds. Our public safety teams are working diligently to protect us, and we can help. This year, more than ever, the most patriotic thing we can do is keep each other safe.”

The City’s Emergency Operations Center will be activated to monitor for any issues and coordinate response activities as needed. The Alexandria Police Department is evaluating intelligence information and preparing necessary staffing for a variety of potential security scenarios. There are currently no known threats specific to Alexandria. Alexandria’s public safety departments are collaborating with federal, state and local partners in the region, including the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, on preparations to provide assistance to each other under mutual aid agreements.

Anyone who observes suspicious activity should call or text 911 immediately. Suspicious activity may include unusual items or situations; civilians dressed in military-style uniforms or tactical gear, or driving military-style vehicles; large amounts or sizes of luggage; or discussions of planned violence. It is also not generally illegal to openly carry firearms in Virginia, although firearms are prohibited by law in City facilities, parks, and gatherings requiring special event permits. Firearms may also be prohibited by private property owners, including hotels and transportation providers.

Factors such as race, ethnicity, and religious affiliation should not trigger suspicion. Individuals should only be reported if they are engaging in suspicious behavior or situations. While certain symbols, stickers and patches may be affiliated with specific groups, it is not illegal to possess these items or display them.

The Alexandria Police Department and Visit Alexandria are working with hotels to provide information about preparations and how to report problems. Anyone with hotel or homesharing reservations should check to see if any changes have been made.

Many roads and bridges will be closed at certain times, under a transportation management plan managed by the U.S. Secret Service. Transportation providers are also implementing many changes to reduce risk. Metrorail will close 13 stations between January 15 and 21, including the Arlington Cemetery Station and others in downtown D.C. Trains will operate on a Saturday schedule and will bypass closed stations. Metrobus will detour 26 bus routes during the same period, which may create some delays. Metrobus schedules will be otherwise normal, except that buses will operate on a Saturday schedule on January 20. There will be no service on DASH’s AT2X route on January 20. Be sure to check for any other potential changes to DASHVREAmtrak, or other transportation providers’ schedules.

In OTHER NEWS: Alexandria Artist Commissioned to Paint Official Inauguration Poster