Large gatherings of bikers threw caution to the wind at South Carolina’s Fall Myrtle Beach Biker Rally as very few chose to wear masks during the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
Thundering music and motorcycles are the names of the game in South Carolina currently. The state’s famed rally is in full effect – and bikers in attendance are paying little attention to local pandemic guidelines.
Murrells Inlet is currently host to thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts. The locale, just south of Myrtle Beach, is experiencing mass traffic jams, while Highway 17 echoes with a raucous fall festival.
Rally goes off the rails
The Fall Myrtle Beach Biker Rally – consists of local bars, tents with merch, and thousands upon thousands of motorcycles. What would be a great opportunity for cyclists to gather in any other year, however, has turned into a nightmare for local government.
Murrells Inlet police are typically on the scene to help direct congested traffic and keep the peace. In 2020’s COVID pandemic, though, they’re having to enforce mask laws, too.
The event in question comes just weeks after a summer biker rally that hammered nationwide news. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – now-infamous – is reportedly responsible for tripling hospitalizations due to coronavirus. And now experts fear that the rally will trigger the same. What’s worse, the pandemic is already expected to reach its worst during the upcoming cold months.
Rally attendees, however, are showing little regard for this past “warning”. Hundreds – if not thousands – of people attending the rally have been photographed not wearing masks. The situation is so bad, it seems, that the state of South Carolina is taking legal action. According to The Post and Courier, “the South Carolina Department of Revenue went as far to seek the permanent revocation of the rally’s alcohol permits, citing the bar showed a ‘blatant disregard for the law and for the health, safety, and welfare of Horry County citizens.'”
As it stands, Suck, Bang, Blow, a bar integral to the event, is challenging South Carolina’s ruling and awaits a hearing. Until a verdict decides their fate, the bar can continue to serve alcohol and host public events.
South Carolina powerless to stop mass unmasked gatherings before they begin
Local citizens, however, say the bar should’ve been prevented from hosting the event in the first place. But SC Governor Henry McMaster ordered “any event that will have more than 250 people get special exemptions from the state to continue”. This leaves it up to the DOC to ensure event plans meet criteria laid out in the governor’s order.
“Any determination issued by the Department of Commerce shall be deemed and considered provisional and shall be subject to revision, alteration, or revocation at any point.”Gov. Henry McMaster
SBB Owner William Couch disagrees with those wanting a cancellation for all gatherings during the pandemic. He notes that attendance during the pandemic is possibly “better than” previous rallies. He sympathizes with those looking for something to do outside during the nice fall weather. And on top of it all, of course – it’s good for local businesses struggling to stay afloat amidst COVID-19.
“Bike Week in Myrtle Beach is not just a biker bar or SBB event. It affects the entire Grand Strand. It helps local businesses, gas stations and hotels.”William Couch, SBB owner
Regardless, SC citizens are hoping that the rally does not result in another public health crisis like Sturgis before it. Unfortunately for those living in the communities these bikers return to – only time will tell.
[H/T Post and Courier]