- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 2, 2020

The D.C. government and the Trump administration are butting heads over events this weekend on the National Mall, with city leaders urging residents to stay home and federal officials encouraging people to congregate to celebrate Independence Day.

From 9:07 p.m. to 9:42 p.m. Saturday, more than 10,000 fireworks will be launched from West Potomac Park, the Lincoln Memorial and the base of the Washington Monument in a display that the federal Department of the Interior said will be “the largest in recent memory.”

In addition, the Air Force’s Thunderbirds and the Navy’s Blue Angels will conduct flyovers from 6:45 to 8 p.m., federal officials said.

“We know this is a special event for the Department of the Interior,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Wednesday at a press conference. “We’ve communicated to them that we do not think that this is in keeping with the best CDC and Department of Health guidance, but this event will take place entirely on federal property.”

It is the latest point of friction between the two governments exposed in recent weeks. City leaders have weathered criticism from federal officials over coronavirus closures and protocols and anti-racism protests, while D.C. officials have chided the Trump administration for deploying National Guard troops in city streets without the mayor’s request and using force to disperse peaceful protesters for a presidential photo op at a church.

What’s more, the White House said the president will veto legislation that would make the District a state, which the Democrat-led House approved for the first time last Friday.

With regard to the Mall this weekend, Miss Bowser said she is issuing the same message for every resident: “Ask yourself, ‘Do you need to be there?’ Ask yourself, ‘Can you anticipate or know who all is going to be around you?’ If you go downtown, do you know if you are going to be able to social distance? Do you know if you’ll be getting on a crowded subway? Do you know if the people who are sitting next to you have symptoms, are sick or wearing masks?”

The Department of the Interior said more than 300,000 face coverings will be distributed to those attending the Fourth of July event on the Mall. The agency said it is encouraging visitors to follow public health guidelines by practicing social distancing, washing hands and avoiding touching other people.

“President Trump’s 2020 Salute to America will be a patriotic tribute to our men and women in uniform, and the Department of Defense will be providing a one-of-a-kind air show,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said Wednesday. “An incredible fireworks display will follow that promises to be the largest in recent memory.”

Meanwhile, Metro announced last week that it will run trains more frequently and extend its hours of operation on the holiday to accommodate increased ridership. However, it isn’t guaranteeing that riders will be able to social distance and asked them to consider all transportation options before traveling.

Miss Bowser said she expects traffic will be limited around the Mall by the federal government or in conjunction with D.C. agencies.

• Sophie Kaplan can be reached at skaplan@washingtontimes.com.

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