WASHINGTON — The Fourth of July fireworks will be happening on the National Mall Saturday, despite the pandemic.
The National Park Service made the announcement Wednesday, and included news that authorities will be giving away at least 300,000 face coverings to visitors due to ongoing coronavirus concerns.
“The masks were provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency," Mike Litterst, spokesperson for NPS, said. "They will be distributed at all access points to the secure area and at the medical aid stations on the grounds of the Washington Monument.”
D.C.'s Mayor Muriel Bowser is expressing reservations.
"We do not think that this is in keeping with the best CDC and Department of Health guidance," Bowser said. "But this event will take place entirely on federal property."
The Department of Interior is characterizing plans for this year’s celebration as "monumental" and a "patriotic tribute to men and women in uniform."
"An incredible fireworks display will follow that promises to be the largest in recent memory", the agency's official announcement said.
Here are the details according to the Department of Interior announcement:
- A 37-minute fireworks show will start at 9:07pm
- Before fireworks, there will be military flyovers that start at 6:45 p.m. ending at 8 p.m.
- Handwashing stations on the Mall will be provided
- Visitors are asked to adhere to US Centers for Disease Control guidelines on social distancing and other precautions for large events.
CDC guidelines for large events include:
- Maintaining 6 feet of distance
- Eliminate lines and queues if possible
- Do not allow lines or crowds to form near the restroom
- Encourage attendees ahead of the event to bring and use cloth face coverings at the event
Those CDC guidelines categorize "Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area" as "high risk."
"If this is something you choose to do, that you want to do, you have to think then 'how do I reduce the risk,'" epidemiologist Dr. Nahba warns. "You can't make that risk zero. If I'm wearing a mask, and you're wearing a mask, and we're staying six feet apart, we know the risk is very very low of catching the infection. So if you’re going to go and you don’t have a mask and they are providing masks that’s a good thing."
President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will serve as hosts, according to the announcement.