The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the requirements for social distancing, will alter in many aspects Friday’s annual remembrance of the terrorist attacks 19 years ago on the United States.
In New York, duel ceremonies will be held on Friday at the memorial plaza and a corner nearby. Instead of stages set up on the occasion this year, hand sanitizer stations installed by crews in masks will dot the grounds in Lower Manhattan, local media reported.
“It was, how we could do it safely, that became a question for us,” said 9/11 Memorial and Museum Director Alice Greenwald.
“We’ve always had a stage. And we’ve seen too many examples of when you have a stage, people naturally gather.”
Family members have pre-recorded victims’ names, which will be streamed online Friday morning, according to an NBC News report.
Victims’ families can still gather in person at the memorial but NYC Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a memo last month that the department “strongly recommends” firefighters not participate in 9/11 observances this year.
The ringing of bells, signifying each attack on Sept. 11, 2001, will still ring out too, complete with honor guard.
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum will open Friday for family members after being closed for six months. Public can visit on Saturday with timed tickets and all social distancing rules in place.
Concerns over the coronavirus at first canceled The Tribute in Light, the beams of light that soar into the air. But Memorial officials, with state and donor support, have finally worked to make sure the production crew are safe.
In Pentagon, this year’s ceremony will be held without victim families’ attendance, and their loved ones’ names will be recited also by a recording, rather than readers on-site, AP reported. The victims’ relatives can visit the Pentagon’s memorial in small groups later Friday.
U.S. President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden plan to attend a truncated ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The Flight 93 memorial is trimming its usual 90-minute ceremony, partly by eliminating musical interludes. Memorial spokeswoman Katherine Cordek said the names of the 40 people killed there would be read, but by one person instead of multiple family members.
Biden’s campaign said on Thursday that the former vice president has pulled its TV ads off the air for Friday to commemorate the anniversary.
“On September 11th, Vice President Biden will commemorate the anniversary of the attack on our country and will honor the incredible bravery, tragedy, and loss we experienced on that day,” Michael Gwin, deputy rapid response director for Biden for President, told The Hill in a statement.
As of Thursday night, the United States has reported nearly 6.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 191,000 fatalities, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.
On Sept. 11, 2001, the United States came under multiple terrorist attacks, after four civilian aircraft were hijacked and steered toward prominent U.S. buildings. Three of the planes hit their targets in New York and Washington D.C., while the fourth crashed en route to Washington as its passengers battled for control of the aircraft with the hijackers.
The attacks left nearly 3,000 killed or missing, and were the largest terrorist attacks on U.S. soil in history.