The mayor of Washington, DC, said Wednesday that she has informed the Department of Interior that the Trump administration’s planned July Fourth celebration in Washington goes against health officials’ guidance amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We know that this is a special event for the Department of the Interior. We communicated to them that we do not think that this is in keeping with the best (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and (DC) Department of Health guidance, but this event will take place entirely on the federal property,” Mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters during a news conference.
Earlier Wednesday, the Department of Interior and National Park Service announced additional details about the President’s Independence Day celebration on the National Mall, which include a 35-minute firework display and a flyover from military branches. The event will be livestreamed.
Bowser has repeatedly encouraged Washington residents to celebrate July Fourth at home this year to avoid spread of the deadly virus. The mayor already scrapped the Independence Day parade in the nation’s capital.
During an April press briefing with the White House’s coronavirus task force, President Donald Trump said that his July Fourth celebration would go on as planned but may be reduced in size to a quarter of what it was and include social distancing measures.
Last month, the White House announced that the President and first lady Melania Trump would host the 2020 “Salute to America” on the White House South Lawn and the adjacent 52-acre Ellipse, concluding “with a spectacular fireworks display over the National Mall.”
“In addition to music, military demonstrations, and flyovers to honor our Nation’s service members and veterans, the President will deliver remarks that celebrate our independence and salute our amazing heritage,” the White House said in a statement.
The Interior Department on Wednesday also encouraged those planning on viewing the fireworks to practice social distancing, wear a face mask, avoid shaking hands, wash hands often, and avoid attending if showing symptoms.
The department said it will provide more than 300,000 cloth face coverings to attendees and that more than 100 hand washing stations will be located around the National Mall, though it remains unclear how or if social distancing will be enforced.
Trump has remained intent on holding the celebration this year despite opposition from Democrats and local lawmakers. Congressional Democrats in May raised concerns that the “Salute to America” would “needlessly risk the health and safety of thousands of Americans” and “cost of millions of taxpayer dollars while we are facing an unprecedented economic downturn due to the pandemic.”
Trump and the first lady will also travel to Mt. Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota, on Friday for an early July Fourth celebration with fireworks and a flyover. Social distancing will not be enforced at that event, though masks will be provided.
CNN’s Caroline Kelly, Ross Levitt and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.