“Sturgis was a really clear warning sign for us,” Sununu said at a news conference. “I don’t think anyone saw Sturgis’ photos and said, ‘He looks safe.'”
But Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, said the New Hampshire event won’t be like the Sturgis rally – there will be no vendor stands for spectators to gather.
He said organizers are unsure how many people will attend, as “they have never held the demonstration under these conditions.”
After the event was delayed for two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, New Hampshire officials promised a shortened rally. Laconian Mayor Andrew Hosmer (D) on Monday promised that the demonstration “will take place in name only”, with a smaller crowd, no vendor tents and no concerts or fireworks.
Like Sturgis residents, 60% of whom disapproved of holding the demonstration in their city this year, many people in Laconia said the event shouldn’t take place at all, according to the Laconia Daily Sun.
City director Scott Myers told the paper that “images from Sturgis do not help” with officials’ attempts to demonstrate that a small event can take place safely.
But St. Clair, a representative of the Democratic state, wasn’t worried about the photos of the mass of bikers without masks packed along Sturgis’ main thoroughfare. He was there.
While riding his black 2000 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail motorcycle at his 44th Sturgis rally, St. Clair heard reports that Sturgis would attract an estimated 250,000 motorcycle enthusiasts this year, about half of last year’s estimated attendance. year. He estimated that the rally, which will take place from 7 August to 16 August, has been reduced even more than expected.
“The campsites are always full,” he said. “This year it wasn’t like that at all. There were many, many empty sites. From the visual eye, it was quite obvious that there was low participation. They expected it, and we look forward to it this year at Laconia. No doubt about it. “
In addition to fewer attendees, St. Clair saw many people wearing masks, although she admitted she also saw people removing them in the summer heat.
Tens of thousands raided the South Dakota city, which is home to fewer than 7,000 residents, starting Friday to enjoy the rally’s similarity with regularity. Despite forecasts of lower voter turnout, the South Dakota Department of Transportation’s traffic count dropped only 6 percent during the first half of the 10-day rush, city spokeswoman Christina Steele told the Post.
In a state that never forced a coronavirus shutdown, attendees celebrated their individual freedoms.
“Screw COVID” read on a t-shirt sold at the event. “I went to Sturgis.”
South Dakota Governor Kristi L. Noem (R) expressed pride in the rally, telling Fox News that her state has demonstrated its ability to host large gatherings, such as President Trump’s 4th of July fireworks display at Mount Rushmore. , without worrying that the virus will spread across state lines.
“We hope people will come,” Noem said of the motorcycle rally. “Our economy benefits when people come to visit us.”
Meanwhile, health officials have already cited the Sturgis demonstration as a cause for concern.
“One of the things we have been very transparent about is that whenever you bring people together, especially if you are bringing together people from areas that may have a higher risk of covid-19 in their general communities, this poses a risk of covid-transmission. 19, “state epidemiologist Joshua Clayton said at a news conference last week.
Epidemiologists have warned that asymptomatic carriers can unintentionally infect others, causing the pandemic when groups come together.
South Dakota reported 1,136 confirmed cases per 100,000 people, compared to 513 infections in New Hampshire. Last week, South Dakota’s average daily case count was 92 cases, compared with 24 cases in New Hampshire.
St. Clair said he was able to easily keep his distance from others and felt that other participants should also add that apathy for the virus threat “is not unique to motorcyclists.”
“There are a lot of people who think this is untrue,” he said. “They are everywhere, not just in Laconia and not in Sturgis, for that matter.”
Chelsea Janes contributed to this report.