WASHINGTON - As President Trump says he is still planning a celebration on the National Mall for the Fourth of July, there are questions about how D.C. officials will handle an in-person gathering that will almost certainly break mass gathering guidance aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
The White House said Wednesday the celebration will happen.
In a statement, spokesman Judd Deere said: "As President Trump has said, there will be an Independence Day celebration this year and it will have a different look than 2019 to ensure the health and safety of those attending. The American people have shown tremendous courage and spirit in the fight against this global pandemic just as our forefathers did in the fight to secure our independence, and both deserve celebration on America’s birthday this year."
Yet D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser referred to the July 4 parade as cancelled, saying the city would coordinate with the Department of Interior on plans for the fireworks.
"The parade has been cancelled. Our concern our big concern would be around how to manage fireworks and we will continue to work with Interior on that," said Bowser.
Any gathering would likely include hundreds or thousands of people on the National Mall, which would violate the spirit of the mayor's orders on limiting of mass gatherings. It might not violate the letter of the law, because Bowser's orders specifically exempts "gatherings on property within the District of Columbia owned by the federal government."
If D.C. reaches Stage Three of reopening by July, the mayor's order would likely cap mass gatherings at 250. Larger gatherings likely won't be allowed until a vaccine is widespread.
It remains unclear if Bowser would discourage the celebration by threatening to prevent or preventing D.C. Police or fire and EMS resources from being dedicated to the event.
Tuesday, members of Congress, including Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D)-DC, sent a letter to the Trump administration asking them to cancel the event to protect visitors from contracting coronavirus.
The White House has not released further details on how any July 4 celebration would work.