Joe Biden inauguraton
National Guard in Washington ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration (Image: AP/Jose Luis Magana)

It’s being called the “end of an error”: US President Donald Trump’s term has run out, to be replaced by Joe Biden and incoming vice-president Kamala Harris.

Inauguration day will look very different from previous years, from a huge security presence to limited crowds and an absent outgoing president.

Here’s what’s happened so far, and what to expect.

What have Trump and Biden said?

In Trump’s farewell address — his second public appearance since belatedly denouncing the violence at Capitol Hill — he asked Americans to pray for Biden’s administration. His speech was taped yesterday and released this morning, and highlighted his administration’s accomplishments.

“I took on the tough battles, the hardest fights, the most difficult choices — because that’s what you elected me to do,” he said.

“America is not a timid nation of tame souls who need to be sheltered and protected from those with whom we disagree.”

Many of the “successes” outlined in his speech, from tax reforms and exiting the Paris Climate Accord, are expected to be reversed by Biden.

Biden gave an emotional speech in Delaware this morning, mourning his son who died of brain cancer in 2015. He then looked towards “the light”.

“Don’t tell me that things can’t change. They can and they do. That’s America. That’s Delaware,” he said.

What will Trump’s farewell be like?

Lacklustre. Trump will be breaking all traditions — instead of giving the incoming president and first lady a tour of the White House and heading to the inauguration together, as the Obamas did for the Trumps, Trump is bailing for Florida before Biden is sworn in.

The Pentagon won’t stage an Armed Forces Farewell for Trump, which is generally an opportunity for the outgoing president to thank the troops.

Instead, Trump will be hosting a ceremonial farewell at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland — widely circulated invitations, which allow attendees to bring five guests, seem to suggest Trump’s people are a little light on trustworthy fans and are trying to bolster numbers.

Trump’s second-in-command Mike Pence won’t be with him. Pence will keep with tradition and attend Biden’s inauguration, along with several key Republicans, including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell who this morning said the Capitol Hill “mob” was “provoked by the president” and “fed lies” by Trump.

What does Washington look like?

Washington is currently in a state of public emergency following the siege on Capitol Hill. Most of Washington is in lockdown with parts declared a “red zone”, allowing only authorities vehicles, with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser telling people to stay home.

Reservations made on Airbnb are being cancelled to stop an influx of potential protesters, and roads and train stations are closed.

The FBI has warned that extremists, fringe groups and conspiracy theorists have called for armed demonstrations.

The National Guard will be out in force, with 25,000 troops on duty in Washington on inauguration day — double the usual number. Each one is being vetted by the FBI after concerns of ties with right-wing militias and some have already been pulled. The events are set to have the largest security presence of any inauguration in US history.

Residents have said there’s an air of sadness instead of celebration.

Will there be any fanfare?

It’s not all doom and gloom — a virtual parade with a star-studded line-up has been planned. Lady Gaga will be singing the national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez is also set to do a live performance, followed by a reading from Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in US history.

In lieu of crowds at the National Mall, nearly 200,000 flags have been placed to represent the American people.

In the evening actor Tom Hanks will host the TV show Celebrating America, with appearances from Biden and Harris as well as musicians Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, the Foo Fighters, Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen.

What are the big changes expected?

Trump and his outgoing administration have been using the final days of the presidency to send messages. The administration has made the strongest statement yet by any government about China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling it genocide. Pompeo later said on Twitter that multiculturalism was “not who America is“.

Trump is expected to pardon more than 100 people charged with a federal crime. While Trump may be able to pardon himself for any potential crimes, he’s not expected to as it would look like an admission of guilt. He can also issue preemptive pardons for his family, but also isn’t likely to.

The full list of those pardoned has yet to be released, though rapper Lil Wayne, who is awaiting sentencing for firearm offences, is expected to make the list.

Biden is set to make some big changes too. On his first day, he’s expected to sign executive orders recommitting the US to the Paris Agreement, ending a ban on immigration from some Muslim-majority nations, issuing a mask mandate on federal property and introducing an eviction ban.