The entire National Mall may be closed to the public on Inauguration Day, National Park Service officials tell NBC News.
Park Service officials and the Presidential Inaugural Committee will decide whether to completely close the Mall, leave it open or close it to the general public but permit some groups to enter once they are screened, Park Service officials said.
Two federal officials previously told NBC News that the Mall would be closed.
An official announcement is expected as early as Friday.
The closure would be the latest of several tight security measures in the wake of the Capitol riot. Members of the public usually gather on the Mall to watch the inauguration, but this year officials ask that people stay away and participate online instead.
The Joint Inaugural Committee already announced it would not issue tickets this year for people who can attend closer to the swearing-in ceremony.
Hundreds of National Guardsmen are patrolling the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, securing D.C. days ahead of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' inauguration ceremonies.
By Inauguration Day, officials estimate 20,000 National Guardsmen will be in the District. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned of threats to D.C., including to lawmakers and federal monuments, and the possibility of armed groups demonstrating in the city before and on Jan. 20.
Those threats, following the deadly U.S. Capitol riot one week ago where a pro-Trump mob overwhelmed police officers protecting the building, have evoked a security response far stronger than officials initially planned.
“We're not asking people to come to D.C. for this is a major security threat, and we are working to mitigate those threats,” D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said. "I remain concerned. I've been concerned before today will be for this weekend, and beyond."
Here’s what to know Thursday about inauguration security in D.C.
Thousands of Flags to Represent Americans Who Can't Attend Inauguration
Due to coronavirus restrictions and enhanced security concerns, the Inauguration Day crowds watching the swearing-in of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris won't crowd around the National Mall this year but partake from their homes.
Nearly 200,000 American flags will be placed along the National Mall to represent the American people.
The Field of Flags will cover the National Mall from 3rd to 13th streets, organizers said.
Inauguration programming will take place over a five-day period, starting on Monday for the National Day of Service.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Thursday morning participants in the swearing-in ceremony that is still scheduled to take place outside the U.S. Capitol.
The invocation will be led by Father Leo O’Donovan, who served as president of Georgetown University.
Lady Gaga will sing the National Anthem. Jennifer Lopez is also set to perform.
That evening, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime inauguration celebration. Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Jon Bon Jovi and R&B singer Ant Clemons will headline the "Celebrating America" show. Biden and Harris are both expected to speak.
The special will air Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. You can watch on NBC4.
White House Perimeter Locks Down
Several blocks around the White House locked down Thursday morning, creating a perimeter that will last through Biden's inauguration.
Anyone entering the inaugural perimeter downtown can expect a security screening. Authorities may ask to see proof that people are in the area for an essential reason.
As of 8 a.m. Thursday, all parking garages and loading docks in the White House zone are restricted.
More and more shutdowns are expected as Inauguration Day approaches.
Starting at 6 a.m. Friday, the U.S. Secret Service all parking garages in a large restricted zone around the National Mall, Capitol, White House and other key parts of downtown will be closed as well, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Wednesday.
Starting Friday, Metro will close 11 stations within the security perimeter. On Saturday, the Metro Center and Gallery Place stations will also close. Closures will remain through Jan. 21, Metro said.
DC Businesses Face 'Huge Hurdle' Amid Heightened Inaugural Security, Pandemic
Some businesses located inside the security perimeter for Wednesday’s inauguration are already making operational changes.
Many businesses are boarding up their windows but plan to remain open. The Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott hotel chains all said their properties in the D.C. area will remain open, despite activists' calls to close in order to discourage potential agitators.
Martin's Tavern in Georgetown, for instance, will host guests, as it has for dozens of inaugurations. However, this will be the first inauguration where customers may only eat outside, due to the District’s pandemic restrictions.
"I know it's going to be a huge hurdle, but I think that people will still want to come and be here. You know, just wear your mask and we're going to take care of you," William A. Martin, Jr., of Martin's Tavern, said.