The presidential inauguration is fast approaching, with only a few weeks to go before the January 20 swearing-in. It’s fair to say that many Americans will be having a lot of… emotions… about the event, so it’s natural to find yourself asking, “Do I have to work on Inauguration Day? Can’t I at least stay home to feel my feelings in private?” Unfortunately, you probably do have to work on Inauguration Day, as January 20 is only a federal holiday for a relatively small group of people.
Although the presidential inauguration is a major national event, schedules for work, school, and public transportation will continue as normal for most parts of the United States. The exception is in the Washington D.C. area. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Human Resources Management, federal employees working in the D.C. metropolitan area have Inauguration Day, January 20, off every four years. (If January 20 falls on a Sunday, the day selected as Inauguration Day becomes a holiday for these workers.) This holiday applies to the roughly 200,000 federal employees working in the District of Columbia, as well as federal workers in certain areas of Maryland and Virginia.
There are practical reasons for giving federal workers in the D.C. area the day off for the inauguration. A huge number of people are expected to descend on the capitol for the inauguration festivities (though there seems to be some disagreement about the numbers. According to The New York Times, Trump’s inaugural planning committee estimates that between two and three million people will attend the inauguration, while Christopher T. Geldart, director of homeland security for D.C., puts those estimates much lower, at between 800,000 and 900,000 people.) With such a massive influx of people coming into the capitol, it makes sense to let D.C. federal workers stay home, rather than battle the hordes to get to work and further contribute to the congestion.
This year, it won’t only be supporters of the new president crowding the streets near the capitol building. The city is expecting thousands of protesters to hit the streets on Inauguration Day and the days following. The Women’s March on Washington, for example, is expected to bring more than 200,000 protesters to the capitol on Saturday, January 21.
One group that will certainly not have the day off on Inauguration day is law enforcement. The NYT reports that 3,200 police officers and 8,000 members of the National Guard will be working on Inauguration day to control crowds, direct traffic, and keep people safe.