Baltimore cancels all special events through end of August, including 4th of July celebration

Mayor announces the cancellations are in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young announced Wednesday that he is canceling all special events through August 31 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Young stated, “I want to inform residents the city will be canceling all special events through August 31 of this year. After consultation with you public health experts, we believe this is the best move for the health of our city and its residents. That includes everything: [July 4] fireworks, it includes Artscape, and it includes AFRAM.” The cancellation also includes any other events that requires a city permit. “Until we see some type of downward turn, all that is canceled,” Young said.

Even city leader Al Hutchinson, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore is on board, releasing a statement saying, “We’re all in this together as our city, the country and the world slowly begin to recover from the unprecedented impact of COVID-19. Visit Baltimore continues to follow guidelines set by the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore. While we know many will be sad to miss beloved summer events and traditions, we support the city and state’s multi-phased recovery plans. We look forward to welcoming visitors back when the time is right.”

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The Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts announced in an emailed press release Wednesday that two of its signature summer events, the Artscape public arts festival and 4th of July celebration, are cancelled. “We are looking into ways we can virtually celebrate and showcase the arts in Baltimore this summer and we look forward to resuming healthy gatherings across the city when it is safe to do so,” said BOPA CEO Donna Drew Sawyer in the release. “For instance, the exhibitions for the annual Janet and Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize will be done virtually this year,” Sawyer added.

Last week, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan lifted restrictions across the state, but Young and county leaders kept the stay-at-home restriction in place. There has been an uptick in cases diagnosed since the governor lifted restrictions last week; however, it is certainly worth noting that testing itself continues to increase to varying degrees within Maryland and across the nation. More testing will inevitably result in more diagnosed cases. City health officials are watching the positivity rate as opposed to hospitalization rate. Right now, the positivity rate in the city of Baltimore is 20 percent, which suggests too little testing is going on to know the full extent of the spread of the virus to people who don’t have symptoms. The city has indicated they have a goal of a positivity rate of between 3-12 percent, and announced yesterday a big increase in testing is planned through a new partnership with a private lab.

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According to the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore is one of the largest cities yet to officially call off its July Fourth celebration. Other cities including Chicago, Cleveland, and Raleigh are also considering doing the same. Philadelphia officials recently announced their annual Welcome America festival will be held in a virtual setting this year, but has not yet made an announcement specifically about fireworks.

In New York City, one of the nation’s coronavirus hot spots, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he is committed to having fireworks on Independence Day. “One way or another, the show will go on, one way or another, we’re going to celebrate the Fourth of July in a very special way in New York City,” de Blasio said during an April briefing.


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