Some 34 years after first seeking the job, Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th US president, bringing to an end the most tumultuous administration of modern times and charting a new course to tackle Covid-19 and unite a splintered nation.

Welcome to our coverage of Inauguration Day 2021. 

Democrat Joe Biden has been sworn in as 46th president of the United States, assuming the helm of a country beset by deep political divides and battered by a raging Covid-19 pandemic.

Biden, 78, is the oldest US president in history at a scaled-back ceremony in Washington that has been largely stripped of its usual pomp and circumstance due to the coronavirus, as well as security concerns following the January 6 assault on the Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump.

With only a small number of attendees present, the Democrat took oath of office before US Chief Justice John Roberts, placing his hand on an heirloom Bible that has been in the Biden family for more than a century.

His running mate, Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, has become the first Black person, first woman and first Asian American to serve as vice president after she was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court's first Latinx member.

Trump, who entered the White House four years ago as a brash billionaire outsider, left as an increasingly isolated figure – without greeting the Bidens at the White House or attending the inauguration.

He held his own send-off event at Joint Base Andrews in the morning, although top Republicans, including Pence, did not attend.

Follow here for updates as they come:

0100 GMT

The new administration of US President Joe Biden pauses some deportations for 100 days in order to ensure "fair and effective immigration enforcement" and focus on US-Mexico border security and the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo issued late on Wednesday.

Biden promised the deportation moratorium on the campaign trail.

The administration has also announced plans on Wednesday for a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after the Trump administration issued leases in a part of the refuge considered sacred by the Indigenous Gwich'in.

Issuing leases had been a priority of the Trump administration following a 2017 law calling for lease sales, said Lesli Ellis-Wouters, a spokesperson for the US Bureau of Land Management in Alaska.

The agency held the first lease sale for the refuge's coastal plain on January 6. Eight days later, Ellis-Wouters said, it signed leases for nine tracts totalling nearly 1,770 square kilometres. The issuance of leases was not announced publicly until Tuesday, Trump's last full day in office.

Biden's press secretary held her first news conference, vowing to bring truth and transparency back to government.

Jen Psaki, who served as the chief spokeswoman at the State Department under former President Barack Obama, told reporters she had a "deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy."

Marking a contrast to former President Donald Trump and his top aides' treatment of what they called "the fake news media," Psaki pled ged professional, civil exchange.

"There will be moments when we disagree, and there will certainly be days where we disagree for extensive parts of the briefing even, perhaps,” she said. "But we have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people."

Biden plans to "bring transparency and truth back to the government to share the truth, even when it's hard to hear," she said.

0030 GMT

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said President Joe Biden will call Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday, the first call with a foreign leader after Biden took the oath of office.

At her first press briefing, Psaki said that the subject of the call will be relations between the United States and Canada as well as the status of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, whose permitting Biden revoked in one of his first acts as president.

Psaki says Biden’s first round of calls to foreign leaders will be with allies, adding that the new president plans to repair relationships damaged by former President Donald Trump’s adversarial approach.

0100 GMT

The new administration of US President Joe Biden will pause some deportations for 100 days in order to ensure "fair and effective immigration enforcement" and focus on US-Mexico border security and the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo issued late Wednesday.

Biden promised the deportation moratorium on the campaign trail.

China's move to sanction former Trump administration officials was "unproductive and cynical", a spokeswoman for President Joe Biden's National Security Council said on Wednesday, urging Americans from both parties to condemn the move.

Around the time Biden was sworn in as president on Wednesday China announced sanctions against "lying and cheating" outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and 27 other top officials under former President Donald Trump.

0015 GMT

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has delivered the first news briefing of Joe Biden’s presidency, a once standard part of past administrations that was largely sidelined during the Trump era.

Psaki said that she will bring truth and transparency to the White House briefing room, a clear reference to her predecessors under President Donald Trump.

0010 GMT

The Senate has voted to confirm Avril Haines as the new director of national intelligence, giving President Joe Biden the first member of his Cabinet.

The 84-10 vote by the Senate on Wednesday came after senators agreed to fast-track her nomination.

Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it was fitting that Haines was confirmed first. He said the intellige nce post is of “critical importance to the country.”

Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee at a confirmation hearing Tuesday that China would be an important focus of the Biden administration. She said she sees her role as speaking “truth to power” and delivering accurate and apolitical intelligence even if it is uncomfortable or inconvenient for the administration.

The Senate was able to vote quickly on the nomination, and bypass a committee vote, after Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton dropped his objection. Cotton had said he wanted to hear from Haines on the Bush-era CIA interrogation program before he agreed to move forward.

Haines was a deputy CIA director in the Obama administration.

2315 GMT

President Joe Biden has reminded his federal appointees and staff that “we work for the people” and is calling on them to be “decent, honorable and smart.”

Biden swore in nearly 1,000 federal appointees and staff in a virtual ceremony in the State Dining Room at the White House on Wednesday evening.

He spoke from behind a lectern, while the appointees appeared at the event via video streams set up on a series of television screens.

Biden said that if any of his appointees treat a colleague with disrespect, he will fire them “on the spot.” He said that mindset had been missing in President Donald Trump’s White House.

2220 GMT

Biden signs series of orders: Covid-19, Paris climate accord

US President Joe Biden has signed a raft of executive orders to launch his administration, including a decision to rejoin the Paris climate accord.

The orders were aimed at reversing decisions by his predecessor Donald Trump, reversing the process of leaving the World Health Organization, ending the ban on entries from mostly Muslim-majority countries, bolstering environmental protections and strengthening the fight against Covid-19.

"We are going to combat climate change in a way we have not done so far," Biden said.

2155 GMT

Biden orders federal agencies to halt rulemaking

President Joe Biden has directed that federal agencies halt all rulemaking until his administration has time to review proposed regulations.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain announced the move in a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies Wednesday afternoon, hours after Biden was sworn in as the nation's 46th president.

The regulatory freeze order is a staple of presidential transitions, allowing the incoming administration to review the pending actions of their predecessors.

2150 GMT

Democrats take control of White House and Congress after three new Senators sworn in

Three new senators have been sworn into office after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges.

Vice President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators, Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla, just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden.

The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote.

2135 GMT

Extended family joins Harris on VP procession

Harris has entered her new office building for the first time in her new role.

Harris was joined on Wednesday by her husband, Doug Emhoff, as she entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which houses the vice president's office.

The marching band of her alma mater, Howard University, helped lead Harris' procession.

She was joined by her extended family and held hands with one of her young grandnieces, who was beaming and wearing a fur coat meant to mimic one Harris wore as a child.

2100 GMT

Wall Street closes at record high after Biden takes office

Wall Street has greeted new US President Joe Biden by climbing even higher on Wednesday, closing at records amid promises of big economic stimulus and relief that the inauguration was uneventful.

All three major indices ended at all-time highs after Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States in a peaceful ceremony just two weeks after supporters of former president Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol in an effort to overturn the results of the November election.

2050 GMT

Biden in White House for first time as president

President Biden has entered the White House for the first time as chief executive after walking an abbreviated parade route, still wearing his protective mask amid sounds of “Hail to the Chief.”

Breaking from Wednesday's protocol of staying in "The Beast", the presidential limousine, the 46th president and first lady Dr Jill Biden walked the last few hundred yards past a military cordon leading to the White House driveway. Biden could been seen bumping fists, finally able to truly relish his dream come true on a day limited by security protocols and health measures.

The first couple walked to the main entrance under the North Portico.

Biden was expected to immediately begin working, with a stack of executive orders on immigration and other matters awaiting his signature.

2025 GMT

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has said it really lifted her heart to see Biden sworn in as president on the same platform that supporters of President Donald Trump climbed when they attacked the Capitol two weeks ago.

Clinton and her husband, the former president Bill Clinton, attended Wednesday’s inauguration. Afterward, she told The Associated Press that she was “relieved and grateful” to see Biden sworn in with a peaceful transition of power.

2005 GMT

Biden, Harris pay respects to vets at Arlington

Biden has spent a few of the first moments of his term at Arlington National Cemetery, honouring fallen veterans with three former presidents and their families.

The president, first lady Dr Jill Biden, Harris and her husband Emhoff presided over a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.

After cannon fire rumbled in the distance, Biden saluted as a military band played the national anthem.

Biden and Harris later briefly touched the wreath before bowing their heads in prayer. The president also made the sign of the cross, then he and Harris stood sombrely for the playing of taps.

1940 GMT

Biden, Harris arrive at Arlington National Cemetery

President Biden and Vice President Harris have arrived at Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Clinton will be joining Biden in this Inauguration Day tradition.

1935 GMT

President Biden’s team started move into the White House

The US building has began humming again with activity a few hours after Biden’s inauguration as staff for the new president started moving into their offices, unpacking belongings and getting the badges that grant them easy access to the property.

New press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that she was “in the building and ready to get to work.” 

Psaki has scheduled the new administration’s first White House press briefing for later Wednesday.

Biden plans to sign a flurry of executive orders, some overturning actions by former President Donald Trump, once he gets to the Oval Office.

1915 GMT

Biden, Harris inspect troops from Capitol steps

Biden and Harris have taken part in the traditional inaugural military tradition of “Pass in Review.”

Biden, Harris and their spouses stood on the East Front steps of the US Capitol to observe the procession of ceremonial military regiments.

Several groupings passed by the steps, with military members saluting the newly minted president and musicians playing traditional patriotic tunes.

The inaugural parade that typically follows was to be replaced by a virtual parade later in the day because of concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Following the procession, the couples climbed into vehicles to travel to Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

They were to be joined by the former presidents who attended the earlier inaugural ceremony.

1850 GMT

Congress presents Biden, Harris with gifts

Congressional leaders have presented Biden and Harris with a variety of gifts, including a pair of flags flown over the US Capitol during the inauguration.

The presentations to the officials and their respective spouses happened Wednesday in lieu of a congressional luncheon that typically follows the inauguration ceremony.

Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said Lenox had crafted a pair of commemorative vases for Biden and Harris, each weighing 14.5 kilogrammes (32 pounds).

1845 GMT

Proud Boys member arrested over Capitol riots

The FBI has arrested a Florida-based member of the right-wing Proud Boys group for his alleged role in breaching the US Capitol on January 6, the Justice Department said.

Joseph Randall Biggs, 37, is due to make his initial appearance in a federal court in Orlando on charges of corruptly obstructing an official proceeding before Congress, unlawful entry, and disorderly conduct.

He is the latest person in a growing number of people with ties to the Proud Boys to face charges surrounding the attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

1840 GMT

Harris gives send-off to Pence on Capitol steps

Vice President Harris has now taken on a role that would have typically been performed by the outgoing president.

Harris and her husband, second gentleman Emhoff, stood on the US Capitol steps to bid farewell to her predecessor, former Vice President Mike Pence, and his wife, Karen.

The two couples stood and chatted for a few moments, even laughing, on the steps before the Pences got into a vehicle and were driven away.

Trump typically would have performed the sendoff for his second-in-command but opted to skip Wednesday’s inaugural festivities

1835 GMT

Twitter shifts US presidential accounts to Biden team

As US President Joe Biden takes office, Twitter hands him the reins of an official @POTUS account as part of the transfer of power.

The one-to-many messaging service gave Biden's team control of all the official White House accounts, and activated a new @SecondGentleman handle for the husband of the country's first female vice president Kamala Harris.

Accounts for the White House, President, Vice President, First Lady and White House Press Secretary "have now inherited their new institutional usernames," according to Twitter.

1745 GMT

Official swearing-in ceremony ends, more events to come

The official swearing-in ceremony for Biden concludes, but more events are planned throughout the day.

Biden and first lady Dr Jill Biden departed the platform at the US Capitol following a ceremony that included Biden taking the oath as the 46th president of the United States. Vice President Kamala Harris also took her oath of office, becoming the nation's first female vice president.

The day included musical performances from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks.

1730 GMT

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman: 'Even as we grieved, we grew.'

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman summons images dire and triumphant as she called out to the world, “even as we grieved, we grew."

In language referencing Biblical scripture and at times echoing the oratory of John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr, the 22-year-old Gorman read with urgency and assertion as she began by asking, “Where can we find light in this never-ending shade?” and used her own poetry and life story as an answer. 

It was an extraordinary task for Gorman, the youngest by far of the poets who have read at presidential inaugurations since Kennedy invited Robert Frost in 1961, with other predecessors including Maya Angelou and Elizabeth Alexander.

1700 GMT

President Joe Biden speaks at inauguration

President Joe Biden calls on Americans to overcome divisions, declaring that "without unity, there is no peace."

In his first remarks as president, Biden said that his swearing-in marks a day of “history and hope.”

Biden said in his inaugural address that the country has “learned again that democracy is precious.”

He added, “The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.”

Biden led with a moment of silence for the 400,000 American victims of the coronavirus, warning the country may be entering the deadliest phase of the pandemic.

1648 GMT

Joe Biden sworn in as 46th US president

"This is democracy's day," Biden says after being sworn in as president, marking a clear end to four chaotic years of Trump's presidency.

The presidential oath was administered by US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biden was sworn in using a Bible that has been in his family since 1893 and was used during his swearing-in as vice president in 2009 and 2013.

1645 GMT

Kamala Harris sworn in as vice president

Kamala Harris is sworn in as the nation's first female vice president.

The former US senator from California is also the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency and becomes the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government.

She was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court. Vice President Pence, standing in for Trump, was sitting nearby as Lady Gaga sang the national anthem accompanied by the US Marine Corps band.

1615 GMT

Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration ceremony has begun

Biden takes the oath of office at noon on Wednesday, becoming the 46th president of the United States. 

The Democrat is preparing to take the helm of a deeply divided nation and inherit crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.

History will be made at Biden’s side, as Kamala Harris becomes the first woman to be vice president.

The ceremony in which presidential power is transferred is a hallowed American democratic tradition.

1610 GMT 

Vice President Mike Pence arrives at the inauguration

Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, announced at inaugural festivities at the Capitol about one hour ahead of Biden’s expected swearing-in ceremony.

Pence is representing the outgoing Trump administration at Biden’s inaugural. 

Aboard Air Force One a final time, Trump landed in West Palm Beach, Florida, just before Pence’s arrival at the inaugural platform.

1605 GMT Capitol police officer accompanies Harris

A Capitol police officer is hailed a hero for his actions during the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol accompanies Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at the inauguration of Harris and President-elect Joe Biden.

Officer Eugene Goodman confronted the insurrectionists and led them away from Senate chambers moments after Vice President Pence was escorted from the Senate chamber as the rioters stormed the Capitol.

Goodman is a Black man and was facing an overwhelmingly white mob.

1540 GMT

Biden arrives at US Capitol for inauguration as 46th president

The Bidens and the Harris family arrive at the Capitol.

Also at the capitol, former US presidents.

Bush and his wife, Laura, were first to arrive at the complex, several hours before Biden’s swearing-in ceremony.

Obama and Michelle Obama and Clinton and Hillary Clinton followed shortly thereafter, with each couple arriving in separate motorcades.

The other living former president, 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, previously announced he would not attend Biden’s inauguration. Carter and his wife, 93-year-old Rosalynn Carter, have largely spent the coronavirus pandemic at their home in Plains, Georgia.

Again, a reminder, Trump is the first incumbent president since Andrew Johnson not to attend the inauguration of his successor.

All American apparel

Biden and Harris showcased American designers at their inauguration.

The president-elect wore a navy suit and navy overcoat by Ralph Lauren. Dr Jill wore an ocean-blue wool tweed coat and dress by American designer Alexandra O’Neill of the Markarian label.

Aides say Harris wore  Christopher John Rogers and Sergio Hudson. Both are Black designers, Rogers from Louisiana and Hudson from South Carolina.

Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, wore a Ralph Lauren suit on Wednesday.

1440 GMT

Washington prepped for tense Inauguration Day

Washington braces for a tense inauguration as more than 25,000 National Guard troops stood watch over a barricaded city, emptied of the spectators who usually throng to the quadrennial ritual.

With much of downtown fenced off, security analysts expressed confidence the unprecedented precautions would protect Biden's 1700 GMT (noon EST) oath of office from a major assault, like the attack on the US Capitol two weeks ago to the day that left five people dead.

Few signs of an organised plot to disrupt the inauguration have emerged, experts say, but the threat of "lone wolf" attacks, or violence carried out by radicalized individuals, was still a concern, particularly at state capitals.

Dennis Pluchinsky, a former State Department terrorism analyst, said some right-wing protesters may rally outside Washington's fenced-off central security zone or cause violence there, in a bid to tarnish Biden's message of reuniting the nation.

But he said their disruption shouldn't mar the ceremony. "There is nothing they can do to hurt Biden. I think all they are trying is to fly their flag and poison the inauguration," said Pluchinsky, who is publishing a four-volume history of anti-US extremism.

As Trump left the White House for the final time on Wednesday morning, his helicopter flew over thousands of American and state flags planted in the National Mall, standing in for the hundreds of thousands of people who gathered for past inaugurations to watch the proceedings on big-screen televisions.

Near the Supreme Court, about 20 National Guard soldiers stood watch as a handful of protesters shouted anti-gay and anti-feminist slogans through a bullhorn.

A Trump letter awaits Biden

Trump has left a letter for Biden, a spokesperson has said,

Melania also left a note for Dr Jill, CNN reported. 

There was speculation earlier that Trump might break with the 32-year-old tradition of leaving a letter behind  for his successor on the Resolute desk in the Oval office.

READ MORE: 5 ways US presidential inauguration 2021 differs from past events

1420 GMT

'A new day'

"It's a new day in America," Joe Biden's first tweet read on Inauguration Day.

Biden and his family first attended mass at St Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, DC.

1400 GMT

Bidens attend mass with Republican, Democratic Congress leaders

Biden has attended mass at St Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, DC, accompanied by Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress in a symbol of unity ahead of his inauguration.

The future 46th President of the United States was accompanied by his wife Dr Jill Biden, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and House leader Kevin McCarthy.

1347 GMT

Trump: Have a good life and see you soon

Trump says it has been "an incredible four years" in his last speech as president.

Trump's speech touched on his economic record, his record of highest votes for a sitting president and his Covid-19 vaccine plan. 

"We want to pay great love to families who suffered," Trump said as the US hit a record 400,000 deaths due to the virus. In his last weeks in the White House, the president has avoided any references to the pandemic and its victims.

As recently as Friday, governors of several states accused the Trump administration of deception in pledging to immediately distribute millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses from a stockpile that the US health secretary has since acknowledged does not exist.

Trump, whose parting address on Monday night ignored Biden, wished the new administration "great luck and great success."

The president signed off with hints of a comeback on some public platform, saying, "Have a good life and see you soon." 

The Trumps then boarded Air Force One for the last time for Florida.

1334 GMT

Trump and Melania land at Joint Base Andrews to a 21-gun salute.

1320 GMT

Trump has left the White House

Trump and Melania leave the White House aboard Marine 1 for Joint Base Andrews.

1300 GMT

Trump and Melania are running an hour behind schedule.

Trump and Melania will depart the White House for one last time on Marine 1. A short flight will take them to Joint Base Andrews for one last President Trump show.

At Joint Base Andrews, Trump will be escorted to a stage for a 21-gun salute. He will then speak and board Air Force One and fly to Mar-a-Lago in Florida

Pence will not be attending the event to say goodbye, a marker of an increasingly strained relationship.

1230 GMT

Joint Base Andrews ready for Trump farewell

Trump to soon depart from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland for his flight to Palm Beach. 

The base has been decked with flags, with a brass band preparing and "House of the Rising Sun" blaring from the speakers ahead of the outgoing president's arrival at the base.

1030 GMT

Trump, in dead of night, releases his administration from ethics pledge, lobbying ban

Trump, in one of his final acts of office, releases current and former members of his administration from the terms of their ethics pledge, which included a five-year ban on lobbying their former agencies.

Trump signed the one-page revocation of the order on Tuesday, and it was released by the White House shortly after 0600 GMT on Wednesday, hours before his term ends.

The new order states: “Employees and former employees subject to the commitments in Executive Order 13770 will not be subject to those commitments after noon January 20, 2021.”

The ethics pledge was outlined in one of Trump’s first executive orders, signed on January 28, 2017, as part of his campaign pledge to “drain the swamp.” 

It required Trump’s political appointees to agree to the lobbying ban, as well as pledge not to undertake work that would require them to register as a “foreign agent” after leaving government. Trump’s order authorised the attorney general to investigate any breaches of the ethics pledge and to pursue civil suits if necessary.

Clinton signed a similar order with weeks left on his final term, allowing former aides to go directly into lobbying after leaving his administration.

1000 GMT

Biden plans immediate orders on immigration, Covid, environment

Biden signs 17 orders and actions just hours after being sworn in as US leader to break from policies of departing Trump.

In first-day moves, he will end Trump's much-assailed ban on visitors from several majority-Muslim countries and halt construction of the wall that Trump ordered on the US-Mexico border to stem illegal immigration, his aides said.

He will also set a mask mandate on federal properties to stem the spread of Covid-19, restore protections of valuable nature reserves removed by Trump and seek freezes on evictions and protection for millions behind on their mortgages due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He also plans to send a bill to Congress to revamp immigration policies and give millions of undocumented migrants living inside the country a path to citizenship that the Trump administration denied.

Jeff Zients, the new president's point-man for fighting the pandemic, said Biden would start by establishing an office of Covid-19 response inside the White House.

A 100-day "masking challenge" will be led with a presidential order for wearing masks in all federal properties and activities, setting the standard for private companies, individual states and communities to follow suit, Zients said.

He will reverse Trump's decision to leave the World Health Organization. Leading US coronavirus expert Anthony Fauci will lead a delegation to take part in the WHO Executive Board meeting on Thursday.

Gina McCarthy, the new administration's chief climate adviser, said returning to the 2016 Paris accord was essential to making fighting climate change a central tenet of Biden administration policy.

Biden will reverse Trump decisions to ease emissions and efficiency standards, and rescind the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a large project that would bring relatively high-polluting Canadian oil into the US.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies