Nassau County, FL Bans Professional Fireworks

July 4th fireworks in downtown Fernandina and at beach resorts, the Ritz-Carlton and Omni Amelia Island Plantation, have been canceled.

A week before the Fourth of July holiday weekend, Nassau County, FL issued a new Executive Order No. 15, prohibiting professional fireworks. The County then issued a news release the same day stating:

“In an effort to protect the health and safety of residents and guests, County Manager, Mike Mullin, has issued Executive Order 15 prohibiting professional fireworks in Nassau County. This is being done to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as firework displays increase and encourage public gatherings. This does not apply to the use of personal fireworks.”

SOURCE: Nassau County News Release (June 27, 2020)
Downtown Fernandina Beach, American Flag on Centre Street. Photo by
Fireworks Canceled From River To Beach

Normally, for Independence Day, a family-friendly event, with fireworks over the riverfront presented by “Light Up Amelia,” (part of the “Hometown 4th of July Celebration”), would take place in downtown Fernandina Beach.

Another annual tradition to celebrate America’s birthday typically happened at the beaches the Fourth of July holiday. Two fireworks displays at the oceanfront, hosted by the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and Omni Amelia Island Plantation.

Florida Bans Drinking At Bars

But as we all know, this is far from a normal year. Also happening this past week, Florida banned consumption of alcohol at bars statewide, for the second time since the pandemic began. See related article, “Florida Suspends Drinking At Bars (Again) Effective June 26, 2020.”

“Light Up Amelia” Downtown Fireworks

Prior to the County’s fireworks ban, the “Light Up Amelia” organization had already decided to cancel their fireworks in downtown Fernandina (the“Hometown 4th of July Celebration” ), announced June 23rd as follows:

“With the increasing COVID-19 cases in our county, we have decided it is in the best interests of the public to RESCHEDULE the Fourth of July Hometown Celebration. We will have the Goodbye and Good Riddance 2020 Shrimp Drop Extravaganza on New Year’s Eve with DOUBLE THE FUN and more fireworks than ever on December 31st, and we hope that you will make plans to join us at that time.”

SOURCE: Light Up Amelia, Facebook — June 23, 2020
Amelia Island Beaches Open Holiday Weekend
New Main Beach Lifeguard Tower, Fernandina Beach Ocean Rescue. Photo by
New Main Beach Lifeguard Tower, Fernandina Ocean Rescue

Here in northeast Florida, Nassau County beaches and Fernandina’s city beaches on Amelia Island will remain open during the holiday weekend, with social distancing guidelines.

Face Mask Mandate Coming?

The possibility of a Nassau County face covering mandate has been under discussion. But as of July 1, 2020, no final action was decided upon (during a meeting of the Nassau County Board of Commissioners, with Fernandina’s city manager on the phone line). But an announcement (Executive Order), about masks, sounds likely to come before the holiday weekend. The city of Fernandina Beach has a commission meeting scheduled on July 2nd, and plans to coordinate with the County on this.

Fernandina Beach Fire Dept. Fireworks Warning

Note that during spring 2020, Florida changed state law, making fireworks legal three days of the year — 4th of July, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. With this loosening of restrictions, and in light of the recent professional fireworks cancellations, more people may decide to shoot off stronger fireworks from their own yards or elsewhere. The Fernandina Beach Fire Department issued a news release July 1, 2020, with this warning (excerpt below):

“The Fernandina Beach Fire Department does not endorse the use of fireworks by consumers, due to demonstrated fire safety and health hazards, as reported by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2018 Fireworks Annual Report. The department also discourages the use of these fireworks in or near environmentally sensitive areas: the beaches, the Greenway, or areas close to forest lands. Each 4th of July, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the risks associated with their use.”

SOURCE: Fernandina Beach Fire Dept. Facebook post. Click to read full news release and safety recommendations.
July 5, 2020 Beach Clean Up

People go to the beach to celebrate on the evening of 4th of July, with many shooting off their own fireworks, leaving behind lots of trash. “Keep Nassau Beautiful” coordinates with other local groups, for an annual effort to clean up the beaches the day after, before the tides wash all the debris out to sea, polluting the ocean. Volunteers are needed to help pick up beach garbage on July 5, 2020, with organized efforts at these Amelia Island beach areas:

  • Main Beach
  • Jasmine Street
  • Seaside Park
  • Peter’s Point
  • American Beach

Social distancing guidelines will be in place for the beach clean up, with “extra sanitation applied to gear.” Volunteers are requested to bring their own mask, and register in advance online. To learn more about the July 5, 2020 beach clean up, visit “Amelia Island’s Annual Fireworks Roundup” event page on Facebook.

Public Encouraged To Wear Masks

Both the Florida Department of Health and local Nassau County Emergency Management have been providing public health guidance during the pandemic, including encouraging the public to wear masks. Nassau EM is offering free masks (see more info below).

Florida Health Dept. Wear A Face Mask July 4th Social Media Message, America Strong
Florida Health Dept. “Wear A Face Mask” Facebook Post
Free Face Coverings Available

On July 1st, Nassau County Emergency Management announced that they are “now distributing free cloth face coverings through our partners!” These masks are “washable and reusable. They may NOT be sold.” See the Nassau EM Facebook page for further information about the free masks.

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