Thousands Gather At Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Despite Pandemic

James Marshall
August 10, 2020

However, in May over 60% of Sturgis 6,900 residents who responded to a city council survey said they wanted to cancel the rally. The rally, which will draw an estimated 250,000 people, always draws big-named performers, so it's no surprise hundreds of folks showed up.

Crowds had gathered for the start of the 10-day event on Friday, with many bikers adopting an attitude of defiance toward the COVID-19 restrictions that have drastically changed day-to-day life.

"There are people from other states coming here that have had massive breakouts in their cities and in their states and they're coming here and they're traveling here in RVs".

"Screw COVID", read the design on one T-shirt being hawked at the event. "I went to Sturgis".

Harley Davidson motorcycles were everywhere but masks were nearly nowhere to be seen, with an Associated Press reporter counting fewer than 10 in a crowd of thousands over a period of several hours.

Daily virus cases have been trending upward in South Dakota, but the seven-day average is still only about 84, with fewer than two deaths per day.

Some of the crowd at Sturgis is composed of retirees and people in the age range deemed to be at risk from the coronavirus. But for many who see the rally as an annual pilgrimage, the camaraderie and atmosphere could not be missed. The first rally was held on August 14, 1938, by the "Jackpine Gypsies" motorcycle club, who still own and operate the tracks, hillclimb, and field areas where the rally is centered.

Business owners like bar owner Marsha Schmid, however, are trying to prevent her establishment from becoming a virus hotspot.

"What's important for people to understand is in a very small community and rural western South Dakota, you can not have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people come without preparations, including garbage and sanitation and additional law enforcement and emergency medical personnel", he said. "And these people calculate their risks every time they get on a motorcycle".

While there have not been any fatal crashes so far during the rally, there have been 12 injury crashes so far, which is slightly more than this time previous year.

"I fell in love with the rally".

The spokesman said Saturday that the band of travelers would be stopped on their way to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, in the name of preventing coronavirus from spreading any further.

But there are no quarantine recommendations for bikers from hot spot states, the mayor said, and leaders are just 'hoping people make the right choices'.

Sudkamp told AP he felt it was inevitable that infections would spread in the packed bars and concert venues.

They were also planning to avoid bars.

The virus hasn't hit South Dakota as hard as elsewhere around the country. It'll be interesting to see how that turns out, ' she added.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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