STURGIS, SD (KTTC) -- Sturgis isn't letting a pandemic slow down its annual motorcycle rally. The 80th annual rally held in the Black Hills is expecting to have more than 250,000 motorcycle enthusiasts ride in.
The City of Sturgis says it is not holding certain events this year to help deter people from gathering in large crowds, and although there isn't a mask mandate in the state, vendors are being asked to post signs for correct social distancing, urging mask use and the vendors themselves will be wearing them.
Christina Steele, Public Information Officer for the City of Sturgis, said vendors are taking the event seriously and hand sanitizing stations are set up on each street corner.
Steele also pointed out that serious discussions were had with vendors and organizers, including those in town but ultimately the event was voted to proceed. The city felt like it had to because outside vendors were holding events no matter what.
"It comes down to the point where we could say no we aren't hosting this rally but we know tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people are coming," said Steele.
With COVID-19 guidelines in place, Steele said the city is excited for the economic impact the rally will have on the town, even if it isn't as large as it hoped it would be. The city is also not worried about a potential outbreak.
"There have been many huge rodeos and parades and just a lot of stuff all summer long," said Steele. "To stand back and to point the finger and say, 'yes we had an outbreak becuase of the Sturgins Motorcycle rally,' I think would be totally false because we've had many large gatherings already this summer with minimal impact if any.
Minnesota health officials are concerned about the impact the rally will have on its neighboring state.
"As we hear of events like the rodeo in Icaska County or reports of the Sturgis rally going ahead later this month, it's again important that we remind everyone that the impact of COVID-19 on our schools, our businesses, and our family and friends is largely going to be determined by the decisions that each of us Minnesotans make." Said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner, Jan Malcom.