PUBLIC SAFETY

The issue: Crystal River postpones July 4 fireworks

Our opinion: The right decision

Crystal River’s June 18 conclusion to reverse an earlier decision and postpone the traditional July 4 fireworks show seemed like the right decision when it was made, and as the number of COVID-19 cases climb in both the county and the state, it looks even better.

While the decision was criticized by some, it was an example of government officials acting in the public interest, even if there are some members of the public who differ with the decision. As former British Prime Minister Tony Blair once said, “the art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.”

The local fireworks show has been an annual tradition for years, one that brings a crowd to the town and all around the bayfront for an evening of fireworks. This year, the city had anticipated a crowd of more than 10,000, with the holiday falling on a Saturday and on the same weekend as the start of Florida’s scallop season.

In deciding earlier in June to go forward with the fireworks show, the city had relied on reports from the Florida Department of Health showing steady or declining cases of COVID-19. However, in the ensuing days, the number of cases increased, raising the question of whether this event could further spread the virus.

Also, the event would require between 20 and 30 city staff and Sheriff’s office personnel and multiple volunteers. With few volunteers signing up, the concern that the event would expose city personnel and Sheriff’s office personnel to the virus, the council voted unanimously to postpone the event.

Since that time, the wisdom of the decision has become even more apparent, with the county having double digit cases and the state number climbing from 5,500 new cases last Wednesday to almost 9,000 two days later. This kind of explosive growth makes it clear that there is community spread of the virus, and any kind of large gathering represents a significant danger of furthering the spread.

While we all regret that there will be no fireworks in Crystal River this July 4, the council made the right decision to reverse its earlier decision and take actions to protect the public.