August 3,, 2020
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – South Dakota, which has seen an uptick in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, is about to host hundreds of thousands of bikers for the 80th edition of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
More than 250,000 people are expected to attend the Aug. 7 to Aug. 16 rally in western South Dakota, which could make it the biggest event anywhere since the coronavirus pandemic started.
The event will offer businesses that depend on the rally a chance to make up losses after the downturn in tourism spending.
Though only about half the usual number of people are expected at this year’s event, residents were split as the city weighed its options. Many worried that the rally would cause an unmanageable outbreak of COVID-19.
“This is a huge, foolish mistake to make to host the rally this year,” Sturgis resident Lynelle Chapman told city counselors at a June meeting. “The government of Sturgis needs to care most for its citizens.”
In a survey of residents conducted by the city, more than 60% said the rally should be postponed. But businesses pressured the City Council to proceed.