With the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally beginning this weekend, thousands of bikers are pouring into the city. Sources at the rally say that the attendees have no interest in abiding by current COVID-19 health recommendations.
This weekend marks the 80th annual rally. Over the course or the nine-day gathering in small-town South Dakota, more than 250,000 people are expected to attend. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the motorcycle rally will be the largest public gathering in the US.
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: City Manager Says It Can’t Be Stopped
Local psychologist, Michael Fellner, spoke with The Daily Beast about the bikers’ refusal to follow health guidelines. “Nobody is social distancing and none of them are wearing masks,” Fellner says. “None.”
Despite the health concerns, Sturgis city manager Daniel Ainslie explains that city officials could not manage to keep the crowds away. “As a city, there’s nothing we could do, we’re not able to put up roadblocks and say, ‘You can’t come in,'” Ainslie tells CNN. “And it was quite obvious that we were going to have a lot of people here, even if we didn’t call it the rally. The issue is if we did not officially sanction it as a rally, then we would not be able to prepare for it.”
Ainslie addressed the impact of tourism and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally for the city. “In an area where we have this many national parks and we rely that significantly on tourism, it’s very hard to look at a virus that has a very low mortality rate — and especially from people who don’t have co-morbidities — and state that we should destroy the entire economy, just to try to reduce the spread of a disease which everyone has said is going to ultimately spread to the community anyway,” Ainslie said.
Local Resident Speak Out on Health Concerns
A major concern from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is bikers coming from all over the US to attend. Some local residents worry that bikers may potentially bring the virus to their city. Furthermore, the bikers may contract the virus at Sturgis and then take it back with them to their respective hometowns.
One local resident voiced their reservations about thousands coming to Sturgis from cities running rife with the coronavirus. “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,” the resident said.
[H/T The Daily Beast]