Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: All about controversial 10-day event drawing over 250K people without mask mandate

The 80-year tradition in the smalltown of South Dakota witnesses bikers from across the country in large numbers


                            Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: All about controversial 10-day event drawing over 250K people without mask mandate
(Getty Images)
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One of America’s biggest annual events The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally commenced in South Dakota on Friday, August 7, despite growing concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. The 10-day event has also gathered a lot of attention and criticism for taking place in the presence of more than 250,000 attendees with no requirement of social distancing or mask mandate. The 80-year tradition in the smalltown of South Dakota witnesses bikers from across the country in large numbers.

Governor of South Dakota Kristo Noem took to Twitter on August 7 to announce the rally. She wrote, “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're excited for visitors to see what our great state has to offer!”

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South Dakota has seen 165 deaths so far, caused by Covid-19. While 60% of residents wanted the event canceled owing to the inflow of hundreds and thousands of bikers from different regions, including coronavirus hotspots, Noem told Fox News that the event is an important economic driver and added that she welcomes Americans to visit the town and help the local economy.

Meanwhile, even the participants are seen approaching the situation quite leniently. According to USA Today, hawkers are selling shirts at the festival that read, “Screw COVID. I went to Sturgis.” Although the strength has halved from half-a-million in the previous years, the consequences of having a large gathering have left the majority of people worried. According to the state Department of Revenue, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally helped generate about $1.3 million in tax revenue for South Dakota in 2019, reported USA Today. 

Expressing their opinion about the annual festival amid pandemic, epidemiologist Dr John Brownstein told ABC News, "You're just adding fuel to a fire," epidemiologist Dr John Brownstein told ABC News. "South Dakota is already experiencing increases in transmission. COVID is not under control in South Dakota; it's just not."

The event has come alive despite resistance from a significant number of people due to the support it receives from businesses that thrive on this event. Reportedly, City Council and Sturgis officials were “pressured” to say yes to the rally. Apparently, several steps are taken to minimize the risk, including not letting the vendors inside the venue like previous years. Also, no shower services or annuals pancake breakfast will be organized unlike in the past. 

The event has earned a lot of criticism for obvious reasons, with many slamming the officials and bikers for partaking in the annual festival despite surging deaths from the virus and putting others' lives at risk. One user noted, “No masks required as 250,000 expected at 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally - Remember 2-3 weeks later when the media is screaming about the rise in cases and lack of tests, PPE, beds and more - this has disaster written all over it and spread country wide - How dumb"

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While another concerned Internet user wrote, “Can’t even imagine how many #COVID19 infections this is going to create.they are all going to bring it back to their cities this virus is going to be around for a long long time Thousands of bikers arrive for 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

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