Social distancing not required at Trump Mount Rushmore event

Political

FILE – This March 22, 2019, file photo shows Mount Rushmore in Keystone, S.D. Organizers have scrapped plans to mandate social distancing during President Donald Trump’s appearance at a July 3, 2020, Mount Rushmore fireworks display and won’t limit the crowd due to coronavirus concerns, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said Thursday, June 4, 2020. The Republican governor said the National Park Service is dolling out 7,500 tickets via lottery for the event, which marks the first time in a decade that fireworks will be set off at the memorial in recognition of Independence Day. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Organizers have scrapped plans to mandate social distancing during President Donald Trump’s appearance at a July 3 Mount Rushmore fireworks display and won’t limit the crowd due to coronavirus concerns, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said Thursday.

The Republican governor said the National Park Service is dolling out 7,500 tickets via lottery for the event, which marks the first time in a decade that fireworks will be set off at the memorial in recognition of Independence Day.

“There will be no better place to celebrate our independence,” Noem said. “We are excited that President Trump will be joining us for this event.”

Event organizers did not reduce the number of tickets due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Noem said she isn’t concerned an influx of tourists would heighten the risk. Coronavirus infections are on a downward trend in the state and hospitals are prepared to handle more infections if needed, she said.

People who don’t get tickets to the event will be able to gather outside the monument grounds to watch the fireworks, Noem said.

Secretary of Tourism Jim Hagen said there will be fewer tickets offered than in previous years, but that was already in the works to help with crowd control.

The state is actively marketing itself as a summer tourism destination, but Hagen said he expects more people are interested in road trips rather than flying. South Dakota is focused on markets within driving distance, he said.

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