PITTSBURGH, PA (July 1, 2020)—The Fourth of July, like everything else these days, will take on a different look and feel this year.
As a result of the ongoing global pandemic, there will be no City-sponsored fireworks show, no mass gatherings at the Point or North Shore, and no alcohol consumption at bars Downtown, in the Southside or anywhere else in the county.
As such, Public Safety’s approach this year will also change.
Pittsburgh Police and several partner law enforcement agencies will still be out on Saturday, but rather than assuring safety for large crowds of revelers, they will seek to counsel people not adhering to proper physical distancing or public mask-wearing, instructing any large groups that do assemble to disperse, and enforcing laws.
“This is certainly going to be a unique Independence Day in Pittsburgh, and not necessarily in a positive way,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said. “We all know that these are uncertain and trying times. But if we can pull together as a city and each of us do our part to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe, hopefully we can come together as a city next year and have a Fourth of July celebration that no one will ever forget.”
Director Hissrich, EMS Chief Ron Romano, Fire Chief Darryl Jones and Police Chief Scott Schubert provide the following safety tips for this year’s holiday weekend:
—Do not use fireworks illegally.
Although some consumer fireworks were recently legalized, they remain a fire hazard and safety concern. As a reminder, fireworks are not allowed in Point State Park or any City park. In addition, the use of any fireworks, even those that are legal, are prohibited within 150 feet of any structure, on any public land and on private property without the landowner’s permission.
Due to a dramatic surge in fireworks complaints, Public Safety formed a Fireworks Taskforce to patrol city neighborhoods and target anyone using fireworks illegally. For more information, follow this link to the taskforce press release:
—Do not fire guns in the air.
Celebratory gunfire is dangerous and, frankly, stupid. But it remains a problem in many cities, particularly on the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. Bullets fired into the air must come down, and when they do the results can be deadly. Pittsburgh Police in all six zones will respond to ShotSpotter activations and arrest anyone caught firing a gun in public.
—Practice water safety.
With City pools closed, some residents will take to private pools and rivers to swim. These options carry significant risk as there is typically not a qualified life guard on duty. River Rescue, the Fire Boat and the Coast Guard will be on the city’s three rivers to enforce boating laws and teach water safety.
—Follow pandemic guidelines.
Maintain proper physical distancing. Wear a mask. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds often. Avoid large crowds. Stay home if you’re not feeling well.
In other words, all of the advice health experts have been repeating for months, follow them. Allegheny County is experiencing a spike in new Covid-19 cases. We can reverse this trend, but only if we follow the experts’ advice.
—Prepare for heat.
The Fourth of July traditionally brings heat and humidity, and this year will be no different. Temperatures are forecast to be above 90 for many days in a row. Limit alcohol intake and drink plenty of water.
—Do not drink and drive.
Ever. Patrols will be out actively searching for and arresting impaired drivers. When it comes to drinking and driving, Public Safety has a zero-tolerance policy.
—Remember your pets.
Please keep them in a safe place. Many dogs are panicked by fireworks and will run away when they hear them. Animal Care & Control sees an increase in lost pets every year in the weeks leading up to the Fourth of July.
Again, we understand that 2020 has been challenging on multiple fronts and that this year’s celebrations will necessarily be different. Let’s all keep a level head during these strange days, with the understanding that our best days as a city are ahead of us. Public Safety thanks you and wishes all a happy, albeit muted, Fourth of July.