As current occupant Donald Trump begrudgingly vacates his residence of four years, the White House is set to undergo a frantic makeover in preparation for the the arrival of newly inaugurated Joe Biden
In a move at odds with convention, President Trump will not attend the inauguration of his successor as the 46th president of the United States on January 20, despite promising a peaceful transition of power
Mr Trump announced on Saturday that he would break with 150 years of American tradition by refusing to attend the swearing in of his successor.
He will be the first sitting president since Andrew Johnson in 1869 to skip his successor’s inauguration.
Mr Biden welcomed Mr Trump’s decision not to attend, saying “it’s a good thing, him not showing up. He’s been an embarrassment to the country.”
The ceremony traditionally involves the incoming and outgoing presidents as a symbol of America’s peaceful transition of leadership.
Instead of attending on Inauguration Day, Mr Trump will reportedly go to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Vice-President Mike Pence has said he will be at the Capitol for the swearing-in, as is customary for the outgoing leaders and former presidents and their spouses.
The White House’s transformation
Moving day at the White House is a fast-paced race against time that includes redecorating, recarpeting, stocking the shelves full of favourite items for the new First Family – and all within six hours.
And this time around, the famous house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will get a COVID-19 deep clean, after both Mr and Mrs Trump fell ill from the coronavirus in October.
The job of handling the highly co-ordinated transition falls to the White House chief usher’s office.
Historically, the day is characterised by scenes of large crowds lining Pennsylvania Avenue to welcome the new president. Behind the scenes, it is organised chaos.
Many of the White House’s 95 domestic staff sleep in their offices the evening before so they can start work at 4am.
Planning for the day starts long in advance, so that by the morning the departing First Family has finished packing and moved out most of their stuff.
There should only be a few bits of furniture and personal items that need to be moved out on the day. The new First Family’s belongings will have been procured and assembled and will be waiting in trucks for delivery.
Before the president-elect and his family show up for an intimate tour of the White House, the staff say goodbye to the outgoing family.
This has sometimes been an emotional moment, with parting gifts and tears.
George W. Bush’s groundskeeper, Dale Haney, was reportedly too emotional to say goodbye when Mr Bush left, instead taking the family’s dogs for one last walk.
At 9.30am the incoming president and his spouse traditionally arrive at the White House.
They have coffee together with the departing occupants and the incumbent First Lady traditionally invites the spouse of the president-elect to tour the president’s private quarters.
Both families then head to the US Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony.
This is where the chaos really starts.
While they’re driving up Pennsylvania Avenue, moving vans and trucks escorted by the secret service pull up to the entrance of the White House’s formally titled Diplomatic Reception Room.
For security reasons professional movers are not used, so White House staff do most of the heavy lifting.
There’s a team for the outgoing president and another team for the new one.
The staff, which have pre-packed the belongings of the outgoing president load it into the trucks before it leaves the grounds. Then the hard work begins.
The house is fully scrubbed down. If the carpets are badly stained they will be replaced, fresh drapes are put in place to match the new family’s taste, new lighting is installed and fresh artwork hung on the walls.
Even the temperature and humidity in the residence are adjusted to the new family’s preferences.
At noon Mr Biden will take his oath on the steps of Capitol Hill.
Back at the White House, the chief usher gives the place a once-over before personal items are brought it.
Clothes are then hung in wardrobes and folded in drawers. Bathroom shelves are lined with the family’s favoured toiletries and the pantry is stocked with their favourite foods.
Major renovations may come later, but the ideas is that when they walk in it feels like home.
The Oval Office also gets a makeover.
New furniture is brought in, new drapes and carpet are installed — all to the new president’s taste.
At 3.30 the new president and First Family are expected to return to the White House – tragedy not intervening, their home for at least the next four years.