WASHINGTON: As Washington locks down for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, Delta Air Lines put new restrictions on passengers to the US capital on Thursday (Jan 14), while Democrats warned of possible political violence even after the Jan 20 swearing-in.
Delta will not allow travelers flying to Washington area airports to check firearms on its flights before the inauguration, Chief Executive Ed Bastian said on Thursday.
The actions follow the storming of the US Capitol last week by supporters of President Donald Trump and disturbances on flights and at airports. Officials have warned of plans for armed protests in Washington and all 50 states.
Hotels, airlines and other businesses ramped up security as authorities planned to deploy at least 20,000 National Guard troops in the city.
"We’re all on high alert based on the events over the last couple of weeks in Washington," Bastian told CNBC. He told Reuters his airline had placed passengers on a no-fly list for their involvement in disruptive incidents that, for example, targeted Republican US Senator Mitt Romney.
In Washington, the perimeter of a high fence surrounding the Capitol was pushed out to encompass the US Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. Nearby roads were closed, and some businesses said they would shut down.
US Representative Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA case officer with a background in terrorism, warned of possible political violence after the inauguration.
"We're certainly preparing for those potential results over this weekend and at the inauguration, but it doesn't end there," she told CNN.
The National Park Service said a decision had yet to be made on whether to close the National Mall running from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial.
The park service closed the Washington Monument to tours and Mayor Muriel Bowser asked visitors to stay away from the city.
Trump's vice president, Mike Pence, was expected to speak at a briefing on inauguration security on Thursday at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The US House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to impeach Trump on charges of incitement after his supporters rampaged through the Capitol, leaving five dead, following a speech by the Republican president reiterating his false claim that Biden, a Democrat, beat him because of widespread fraud.
The storming of the Capitol is being investigated by federal authorities, who have arrested dozens of people so far.
More than 30 House Democrats, including Spanberger and US Representative Mikie Sherrill, have asked the acting House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and the acting head of the Capitol Police for visitor logs, videos and other information about who was in the building that day.
Sherrill, who has accused Republicans of inciting the Trump mob, said she saw colleagues leading groups on "reconnaissance" tours of the Capitol the day before the Jan. 6 attack.