Last week, the White House released a statement detailing its Fourth of July plans. The First Family and the Department of the Interior promised “music, military demonstrations, and flyovers,” in addition to a fireworks display over the National Mall.
Since then, Defense officials have confirmed there will be no tanks or military equipment involved this year, and the National Parks Service has confirmed a 35-minute fireworks show on the Mall beginning at 9:07 p.m. Saturday. But myriad other details remain hazy, even to those inside the departments responsible for the celebration.
“I still don’t even know what time the flyover is,” says NPS spokesperson Mike Litterst. He’s awaiting more instructions from Department of Interior officials, who he says are waiting to be provided more guidelines from the White House. When asked for more details, a White House spokesperson emailed “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, including social distancing, facial coverings, and personal hand sanitizer.”
While Trump himself has previously said the safety of participants will be considered, there still haven’t been any official guidelines released to ensure the Fourth doesn’t become a super spreader event. If Trump’s Tulsa rally is any indication, it doesn’t seem like mitigating disease spread is top of mind in his event planning.
And it doesn’t look like DC officials are going to be the ones to remedy that. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has canceled parades in the District, but hasn’t said she’ll block off any city streets to deter visitors (as she did during the cherry blossom festival), instead saying this year’s celebration will be supported as in previous years.
The Metro will run more frequently to accommodate increased travel. Though masks are required to ride the Metro, a WMATA spokesperson said she didn’t know of any plans to plant security at station entrances to ensure guidelines are being followed.