Quarter Of A Million Bikers Defy Coronavirus Fears And Gather For US Rally
An annual motorbike rally in South Dakota has come under fire after more crowds of up to 250,000 people descend on a town in the state.
Thousands of bikers made the trip to Sturgis, a city of around 7,000, from Friday, with more continuing to drive into the city over the weekend.
The 10-day event has gone ahead, despite the pandemic, but it has come under fire for a lack of social distancing, with thousands cramming into crowded bars with no requirement for a mask.
The mayor of Sturgis, Mark Castensen, said that he wanted to encourage 'personal responsibility'. He has set up sanitation stations throughout the area, and given out masks to those who wanted them - but there would be no enforcement of face coverings.
Speaking to CNN on Thursday, he said: "We cannot stop people from coming."
City manager, Dan Ainslie, told the news outlet that although attendance is expected to be lower, there isn't much they can do other than prepare.
He said: "As a city, there's nothing we could do, we're not able to put up roadblocks and say, 'You can't come in.
More Like ThisMore Like This
"And it was quite obvious that we were going to have a lot of people here, even if we didn't call it the rally. The issue is if we did not officially sanction it as a rally, then we would not be able to prepare for it."
He explained: "There's been a significant look at what the pros and cons are. In an area where we have this many national parks and we rely that significantly on tourism, it's very hard to look at a virus that has a very low mortality rate - and especially from people who don't have co-morbidities - and state that we should destroy the entire economy, just to try to reduce the spread of a disease which everyone has said is going to ultimately spread to the community anyway."
One local said: "My grandma is absolutely terrified because she has diabetes and is in her 80s and has lupus. If she gets it, it's a death sentence."
The resident, who said they have asthma and spoke anonymously, said: "I fear that I will live in my house for a month after this if not six months after this until it all clears.
"There are people from other states coming here that have had massive breakouts in their cities and in their states and they're coming here and they're traveling here in RVs.
"You don't think they're going to bring it here to the state and get local residents infected?"
Featured Image Credit: PA