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Baltimore cancels New Year’s Eve celebration amid coronavirus surge

With coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations climbing in the city, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts announced Wednesday it will not be hosting its annual “New Year’s Eve Spectacular” this year.

In a typical year, this celebration would light up the Inner Harbor basin with fireworks and include live music, drawing thousands to the promenade. However, amid safety concerns and public health restrictions on gatherings, BOPA CEO Donna Drew Sawyer said in a Wednesday news release that her office worked with newly elected Mayor Brandon Scott to make the “difficult but necessary” decision to put the festivities on hold for 2020.

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“For all of us, health and safety is our primary concern,” she said in the release. “We understand this cancellation impacts many, but we hope taking these important precautions now will allow us to safely reunite at the annual celebration next year.”

The number of people hospitalized in Maryland with coronavirus-related complications reached 1,799 on Tuesday, the highest since the state started tracking the pandemic in March. Deaths from the virus are also on the rise, with the state reporting more than 1,100 fatalities in November and half of December after reporting fewer than 200 in October.

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Over the backdrop of this surge, Scott urged Baltimoreans to celebrate the holidays safely this year by wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing and limiting gatherings to those in their households.

“We will all miss the annual New Year’s Eve Spectacular this year, but public health is our top concern as we do everything possible to keep Baltimore safe,” Scott said in the release. “The difficult decisions we make this year will impact our future celebrations together.”

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