The Sturgis motorcycle rally pulling a crowd of more than 250,000 people is one of the biggest public gatherings since the onset of the pandemic. It takes place in South Dakota and raises a lot of revenue for the state.
According to the data last year, 500,000 people were in attendance, and the rally generated up to 1.3 million in tax revenue for South Dakota.
Sturgis is a rally known for rowdiness and nakedness, but attendees claim that it has lost its edge in recent years. More recently, the people who attend these rallies are professionals with too much to lose, like accountants, lawyers, and doctors.
62% of the 7000 people from South Dakota during a city survey said they would prefer that the event does not push through. However, despite the displeasure, riders have started showing up for the rally.
Some bikers expressed defiance for the rules that have been in place around the world since the pandemic’s onset. Apart from the concern for increased crime rates, the likelihood of increased COVID-19 spread beyond a manageable point is another major problem.
Although people are encouraged to wear masks, this is not a law, and many of the participants are enjoying freedom from the pandemic laws.
Kristi Noem, the state governor, did not implement rules on physical distancing and wearing of masks.
“I trusted my people, they trusted me, and South Dakota is in a good spot in our fight against COVID-19. The #Sturgis motorcycle rally starts this weekend, and we are excited for visitors to see what our great state has to offer!”South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem
Currently, the cases of COVID-19 in South Dakota are increasing daily and are not yet under control. An epidemiologist called it adding fuel to the fire.
Besides the control problem, most of these people could be potentially contagious and, with no room for social distancing, can spread the virus.
Another infectious disease specialist said he is not worried about the rally because most people will be outside. His concern is for after, when people go to hotels, tourist attractions, grocery stores, and more, putting the entire city and its officials at risk for the virus.