“Sturgis was a really clear warning sign for us,” Sununu told a news conference. “I do not think anyone saw the photos from Sturgis and said, ‘That looks safe.’ “”
By Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Weather Association, said the New Hampshire event will not be like the Sturgis rally: There will be no vendor booth where fraudsters can gather.
“It will be nothing like being normal,”; he told the Washington Post, “but also, what is it anymore?”
He said organizers were not sure how many people would attend, as they “never held the rally in these conditions”.
After the event was delayed for two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, New Hampshire officials promised an abbreviated meeting. Laconia Mayor Andrew Hosmer (D) vowed on Monday that the rally “will take place only in name”, with a smaller crowd, with no vendor tents and no concerts or fireworks exhibitions.
Like the residents of Sturgis, 60 per cent of whom refused to hold the rally in their hometown this year, many people in Laconia have said the event should not happen at all, the Laconia Daily Sun reported.
City manager Scott Myers told the newspaper that “photos coming from Sturgis are not helping” with officials’ efforts to make the case that an escalating event could safely happen.
By St. Clair, a representative of the Democratic state, was not worried about photos of the mass of masked motorcyclists stuffed along Sturgis main road. He was there.
As he rode his 2000 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail black motorcycle to his 44th Sturgis rally, St. Clair heard reports that Sturgis was projected to attract around 250,000 motorcycle enthusiasts this year, about half of last year’s projected turnout. He estimated that the rally, which runs from August 7 to August 16, gathered even more than expected.
“Camp sites are always full,” he said. “This year was not the case at all. There were many, many empty sites. From a visual point of view, it was quite clear that there was a low turnout. They expected this, and we expect it in Laconia this year. There is no doubt about it. . “
In addition to the less present, St. Clair saw many people wearing masks, though he acknowledged that he also saw people removing them in the summer heat.
Tens of thousands flocked to the city of South Dakota, home to less than 7,000 residents, starting Friday to enjoy the resemblance of the rally to regularity. Despite lower turnout forecasts, the traffic count from the South Dakota Department of Transportation fell by just 6 percent during the first half of the 10-day period, city spokeswoman Christina Steele told The Post.
In a state that never implemented a coronavirus shutdown, attendees celebrated their individual freedom.
“Screw COVID”, a T-shirt sold at the event. “I went to Sturgis.”
South Dakota Governor Kristi L. Noem (R) expressed pride in the meeting, telling Fox News that her state has proven its ability to host large rallies, such as the display of President Trump’s Fourth Fireworks display. July on Mount Rushmore, with no worries that the virus will spread across state lines.
“We hope people come,” Noem said of the motorcycle rally. “Our economy benefits when people come and visit us.”
Meanwhile, health officials have already cited the Sturgis rally as a cause for concern.
“One of the things we’ve been very transparent about is every time you gather people – especially if you bring together individuals from the area who may have a higher risk of covid-19 in their general communities – this poses a risk to transmission. of covid-19, “said state epidemiologist Joshua Clayton at a news conference last week.
Epidemiologists have warned that asymptomatic carriers can inadvertently infect others, pushing the pandemic when groups congregate.
South Dakota reported 1,136 confirmed cases per 100,000 people, compared to 513 New Hampshire infections. Last week, the average number of South Dakota daily cases was 92, compared to 24 in New Hampshire.
St Clair said he was able to easily maintain his distance from others and felt the attendees should too, adding that apathy about the threat of the virus “is not unique to motorcyclists”.
“There are a lot of people who think this is fake,” he said. “They are all over the country, not just in Laconia and not in Sturgis, for that matter.”
Chelsea Janes contributed to this report.