Updated at 11:41 a.m.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh accused fireworks companies of a concerted effort to sell explosives in Massachusetts, “taking advantage of people” in the state who have been shut in by the coronavirus.
The mayor traditionally has a press conference ahead of the July Fourth holiday to issue warnings about public safety about the dangers of fireworks.
This year that event happened in the backdrop of an extraordinary increase in fireworks complaints around the city. In June, Walsh said fireworks complaints to the Boston Police Department had increased 2,300 percent, from 27 calls in May 2019 to more than 650 in May 2020.
“I think it’s companies taking advantage of people” that is at the heart of the region’s fireworks problem, Walsh said Thursday. “Whether they are being sold out of a van or people are going across the border [to New Hampshire], those companies that sell the fireworks are being completely irresponsible.”
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey sent a “cease and desist” letter Wednesday to Youngstown, Ohio-based Phanton Fireworks, demanding that the company stop mailing advertisements and sales promotions to Massachusetts residents.
Walsh reminded residents that purchase, sale and use of fireworks is illegal in Massachusetts without a permit.
Boston's annual fireworks display on the Esplanade, which usually draws thousands of spectators, has been canceled because of the pandemic. Instead, the Boston a pre-recorded Boston Pops concert will air on television, radio and online.