So far, 2020 has been the year that never was, and most of us would love to have a redo of this year. Events of every kind have been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. South Dakota has gotten off pretty easy with the coronavirus due to its relatively sparse population, and the current plan is full speed ahead for the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. AMERiders has an update on our Sturgis post last month for you were we were waiting on the council’s vote to find out if the rally would even move forward, and it will with some COVID restrictions.
“We’re 100 percent on planning the rally,” said Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen at a news briefing at Sturgis City Hall back on March 25. He went on to say that with the rally five months away at that time, he hoped that the virus will have run much of its course by then.
As hard-hit areas of the US begin to see improvement while others continue to get worse or are seeing a second wave, Sturgis organizers remain unconcerned.
However, According to KOTA-TV, Sturgis City Council approved the event on Monday 6/16/2020 with an 8 to 1 vote, bringing a final answer to weeks of uncertainty about the festival.
There have been some COVID Restrictions set in place for the rally, however.
The COVID-19 pandemic version of the Rally will have no opening ceremonies, no B-1 fly-over of Main Street, no bands or contests at Harley-Davidson Rally Point, and no photo towers.
Under their “proceed and prepare plan,” the city will issue vendor permits and require them to wear PPE to keep visitors safe. The city also plans to buy PPE or personal protective equipment and distribute them to local businesses if needed. The city itself already has PPE for its employees, so this would be additional materials for others in Sturgis during the rally.
Parking is allowed on Main street, but plaza seating and open container drinks will not be allowed, according to KOTA. But it will have hand-sanitizing stations on Main Street as well as a nightly disinfecting of the downtown sidewalks. The issue of the cost of the hand sanitizer had come up during council discussion Monday night.
Full Throttle Saloon and Pappy Hoel Campground owner Michael Ballard “Our distillery is making hand sanitizer, and I’ll donate the $10,000 bill for the sanitizer,” he said.
In addition, mass testing is being considered but has not been approved. Each test could cost up to $150 per person, said KOTA.
According to the Black Hills Pioneer, the changes are meant to reduce the number of people gathering at once and possibly spreading coronavirus.
The annual rally is a huge tourist attraction for the area. According to city statistics, the highest attendance was just under 740,000 in 2015.
As the country starts to reopen, despite the threat of an even more severe second wave of infection, it’s a tough call whether to head to Sturgis or not. While South Dakota has not been a hot spot, people traveling to the area from all over could inadvertently bring it with them, spread it, and bring it back home with them. You can expect the downtown area to be pretty crowded regardless. If you party it up at the Buffalo Chip, where big-name concerts like Willie Nelson, ZZ Top, Shinedown, Puddle of Mudd, and the very last Lynyrd Skynyrd show will take place, I can assure you that social distancing will be impossible in the crowds.
Here is the Mayors Rally update posted on Facebook
~And as always…
~Live Free Ride Hard~
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