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Social distancing anxiety abounds in DC ahead of Trump’s Independence Day fireworks

The President’s July 4 celebration at the National Mall will feature one of the largest fireworks displays in history, and up to 300,000 face masks will be awarded to those who want them, but despite the health concerns of the DC mayor. , apparently no one will be required to use them.

Trump did not mention the masks or the overall pandemic in a tweet Wednesday in his Independence Day plans. He thanked corporate donors for supporting “what will undoubtedly be a special night.”

Home Secretary David Bernhardt described a second year of army-focused events in the nation’s capital on July 4, including the Department of Defense flyovers for a “one-of-a-kind air show.”

“President Trump’s 2020 salute to the United States will be a patriotic tribute to our men and women in uniform,” Bernhardt said in a statement.

A 10,000-mile fireworks shot will be “the largest in recent memory,” he said.

July 4 occurs when Americans are dealing with growing cases of Covid-19 and confusion about best practices in public, especially in masks. Trump has come under fire for pushing to go ahead with major campaign rallies and other public gatherings, such as the upcoming holiday event, despite the increased risk of infection.

Among those deeply concerned is Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has no right to shut down the Christmas show because he is on federal land, but has warned the federal government of the obvious dangers of such a large crowd.

Bowser said he had briefly read the Department of the Interior’s statement about the July 4 plans and believed they were not consistent with established health guidelines.

“We know this is a special event for the Department of the Interior. We have communicated to you that we do not believe that it is in accordance with the best guidance of the CDC and the Department of Health. But this event will be held entirely on federal property,” Bowser said.

Washington is currently in phase two of its reopening plans, and Bowser asked district residents to avoid large crowds and celebrate July 4 at or near their homes.

“We are giving DC residents the same message about any of their outings for the holiday weekend. Ask yourself, you need to be there,” he said. “Ask yourself, can you anticipate or know who will be around you? If you go to the center, do you know if you will be able to distance yourself socially?”

Interior officials planned to have 300,000 facial covers on hand to give away at the National Mall. Bernhardt said visitors would be encouraged to wear masks and stay within six feet of each other. There was no indication that it was mandatory, despite recommendations from health officials.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations on masks, which say that face coatings “are more likely to reduce the spread of Covid- 19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. ” not mandatory in themselves.

“The president has said that we must follow our local authorities in masks, so that is the decision,” said McEnany. “He encourages people to follow those authorities. The CDC guidelines, he would also point out, say it is recommended but not mandatory and we are looking forward to the July 4 celebration.”

Trump and First Lady Melania Trump plan to host events from the South Lawn of the White House and from Ellipse on Saturday, the day after Trump attends a fireworks display and public gathering on Mount Rushmore.

This year’s event is expected to run without military vehicles. After Trump expressed admiration for France’s military-themed parades, last year’s Independence Day events, with a speech by Trump near the Lincoln Memorial and military overpass, included stationary displays of Bradley combat vehicles .

A Department of Interior inspector general’s report last week estimated last year’s Salute to America partial price at $ 13m (£ 10.4m), double that of previous years, in part due to the cost of including the Bradleys . Like last year, donations are helping to pay part of the cost of the July 4 events, Bernhardt said.