The Trump administration is planning a large Independence Day fireworks display in Washington Saturday despite the city’s concerns about the coronavirus.
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Interior Secretary David Bernhardt outlined plans for the July Fourth celebrations, which include a milelong firing of 10,000 fireworks that he called “the largest in recent memory.”
Bernhardt said in a statement that Defense Department flyovers would give a “one-of-a-kind air show” and said, “President Trump’s 2020 Salute to America will be a patriotic tribute to our men and women in uniform.”
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Interior Department officials say they will have 300,000 face masks on hand to be given to spectators who come to the National Mall for the festivities, although there is no indication that people will be required to wear them.
Bernhardt said visitors would be encouraged to wear masks and keep a six-foot distance from one another.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has criticized the plans, saying they go against established health guidelines.
“We know this is a special event for the Department of Interior. We’ve communicated to them that we do not think this is in keeping with the best CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Department of Health guidance,” she said.
She noted the event would take place entirely on federal property, which means she does not have the right to shut down the holiday festivities.
Bowser has asked city residents to avoid large crowds and to celebrate July Fourth near their homes.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump plan to host events Saturday from the White House South Lawn as well as the Ellipse.
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Many other U.S. cities have canceled or scaled back their firework displays this year because of the pandemic and concerns of large groups of people gathering.
The organizers of the Macy’s July 4th firework display in New York City canceled the traditional one-night festivities and instead are holding short nightly shows in each borough that began June 29. Video of the displays will be aired on television Saturday night.
Americans planning to throw their own celebrations will be banned from several popular beaches, including some in South Florida, Southern California and the Texas Gulf Coast.
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In the northeast U.S., where coronavirus cases have generally been subsiding, beaches are open. However, government officials are urging people to avoid crowding.
The CDC advised Americans who do go to the beach to wear face coverings.
Sales of fireworks have been strong, indicating that many Americans are planning to celebrate the holiday in their backyard, according to the Associated Press.