Masks and other measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus will be completely optional at the July 3 Independence Day event at Mount Rushmore, and those who have concerns have the option of staying home, South Dakota's Republican governor says. "Those who want to come and join us, we'll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one," Gov Kristi Noem told Fox News Monday night. "But we will not be social distancing." Noem told host Laura Ingraham that state officials want people to "focus on personal responsibility." She added: "Every one of them has the opportunity to make a decision that they're comfortable with."
President Trump is expected to deliver remarks at the Friday night event, which will feature fireworks at the monument for the first time since 2009. NBC reports that attendance has been limited to around 7,500. Tickets were distributed after an online lottery earlier this month. Social distancing has been encouraged by South Dakota health officials and the National Park Service, which has jurisdiction over Mount Rushmore. "We ask the public to be our partner in adopting social distancing practices when visiting parks," the National Park Service says. (Noem has vowed not to let anybody blow up the monument.)