“I am honored to attend the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and ready to begin working closely with each of them to fight this virus, save lives and put the country back on track,” Whitmer said in a press release before Wednesday’s inauguration.
In a normal year, this would already be a massive undertaking: planning one of the nation’s most important traditions. This year, it’s a different kind of feat. “It’s just got to look a lot different, and that’s okay,” Whitmer said. “Our goal was to make sure we honor the Inaugural traditions, that we showcase the strength and resilience of our nation, and that we bring Americans together to mark a new beginning”
Still, Whitmer has passed some of the sternest coronavirus mandates in the country in her state and has “generally discouraged Michiganders from traveling and attending gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic."
"Certainly, she will adhere to all COVID-19 safety precautions as it relates to travel and while she's there," Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said.
The mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser, even advised against people traveling to the city for “public health” reasons and due to growing security following the breach of the Capitol.
“I want to reiterate my request to Americans to enjoy this 59th inauguration of the president of the United States and the vice president of the United States at home. Enjoy it virtually on Jan. 20,” Bowser said. “We know this is the right request for our public safety and our public health.”
Some local conservatives expressed anger over Whitmer’s trip, including Michigan Rising Action Executive Director Tori Sachs, who called on Whitmer to reopen the state.
“If Gov. Whitmer can fly to D.C. for a celebration, then she should immediately open all of Michigan’s small businesses that remained closed due to her orders,” Sachs said.
Indoor public meetings and dining are forbidden in the state, and residents are required to work from home unless they "cannot feasibly" perform their job remotely, among other limitations.
Ahead of the holidays, Whitmer pushed residents in her state not to travel and to use video platforms to connect with family and friends instead of live visits.
“So we really are encouraging people not to travel for Christmas and start figuring out how to use Zoom to stay close,” Whitmer said in December.
Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether anything has developed since December with the virus for her to make the trip.
The Democratic governor was recently appointed as the co-chairwoman of Biden’s inaugural committee and was nominated to serve as a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.