Workers in Washington late Wednesday started taking down security barriers following President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Video footage and photographs showed workers removing concrete blocks and fencing.
The breakdown started “in earnest” at 6 p.m. and will likely take 36 hours to complete, D.C. Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio said.
“That aligns with the end of the Inauguration Pause on indoor dining which is set to expire on Friday, January 22, at 5 am. Restaurants will then be able to return to 25% indoor,” he said in a tweet.
Falcicchio asked members of the public to give crews time and space to work safely.
A perimeter was set up around approximately 4.6 miles in Washington, with a focus on the Capitol after the Jan. 6 breach. Some 25,000 National Guard troops poured into the city from states across the country to ensure a smooth transition of power.
The city imposed harsh restrictions even on residents and small business owners inside the perimeter. Now officials want the Biden administration to send financial help. They submitted requests to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration.
“It’s really important that these businesses have a lifeline, because this week really added on top of an already bad situation, given COVID,” Falcicchio told Fox 5, referring to COVID-19.
“Today we feel hopeful. We are hopeful that we can get a life-saving vaccine to every American who still needs one. Hopeful that we can get much-needed assistance to the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy but struggling to make it to the other side of this pandemic,” Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, said in a statement after Biden was sworn in.
Bowser in a tweet thanked residents and businesses “who endured earlier street closures & more intense security than Inaugurations past.”
The mayor said multiple times in recent days that the city will see an adjustment in security even after the inauguration, positioning the development as a “new normal” for residents.
“We certainly have to think about a new posture in the city,” she told reporters last week. “So while we are focused on Jan. 20, we are also focused on Jan. 21 and every day thereafter in the nation’s capital.”
Gen. Dan Hokanson, the National Guard Bureau chief, said during a Jan. 19 briefing that upon completion of the inauguration the Guard “will continue to support federal law enforcement as requested, and our service members will return home as soon as conditions permit.”
Along with the 25,000 guardsmen in D.C., 16,000 are deployed overseas, 6,000 were protecting key infrastructure and capitol buildings in 30 states, and 22,000 were supporting COVID-19 relief and vaccine efforts. The 91,000 in total deployed is less than 20 percent of the Guard’s capacity.
Arrest data for Jan. 20 wasn’t available from the Metropolitan Police Department as of early Thursday. The department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.