Sturgis Rally to have few measures after three years of COVID
STURGIS, S.D. – With it being one of the few events that still happened in 2020, this year will mark the third Sturgis Rally with COVID-19.
Despite the number of variants, people are still invited to partake and enjoy the Rally, especially since they don’t have to be in a crowded bar.
“By now people have natural immunity, or they have the vaccine or whatever it happens to be. So, we’re not quite going through those measures like we have in the past,” Dan Ainslie, Sturgis City Manager, said. “There’s still some addition heightened sanitation that’s occurring.”
The city has stockpiles of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available and will provide for anyone’s use like vendors or full-time business workers.
Another mitigation measure is the open container zone.
“We’re ensuring that there are open containers so that people, if they want to partake in the rally, but they don’t necessarily want to be in a crowded bar, they’re able to be outside, still enjoy music. We have plenty of outdoor concerts, but they don’t necessarily need to be inside a building.”
After its trial run last year, the open container zones will continue this year.
According to Ainslie, there are three reasons.
“One, as a COVID mitigation measure, so that people could still be able to have a beer and not be inside a bar. The second reason, so that people could hopefully spend a little bit longer downtown and not feel as rushed to finish a beer and then hop on their bike or anything like that,” Ainslie said. “And then the third reason is hopefully as a fundraiser for our local Sturgis rally charities, who raise funds throughout the rally and then give it out to various different organizations: the food pantry, women’s shelter, different things like that.”
People worried that there would be an increase in things like DUIs or aggravated assaults, but that didn’t happen.
Ainslie felt like having the open container zones was successful.
“What you end up seeing was that last year people spent more time downtown than they did in 2019, which was fantastic to see, and people felt far more relaxed and enjoyed being downtown,” He said.
The biggest change for open containers this year is the time span. It starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 2 a.m. still allowing enough time for cleanup.
Wrist bands will also not be provided, because of how time-consuming they became last year. Police officers will check IDs for anyone who appears as they might be under 21.
People might still be worried about COVID-19, especially after the idea that the 2020 Rally was going to
be a superspreader.
“Even in 2020, the state of South Dakota, along with Oxford University, did a study where they asked every single Department of Health in every state to provide any cases where that individual that received or contracted COVID was at the rally and most states actually counted not only anyone who was at the rally, but anyone who was in the state of South Dakota,” Ainslie said. “They counted that as being a Sturgis contraction.”
He says there were about 650 confirmed cases – with just over a thousand with secondary and tertiary cases – out of half a million people that went to the Rally in 2020.
“All things considered, the amount of people who actually contracted the virus in Sturgis was incredibly small,” Ainslie said. “People were not crowded into bars in 2020 and rightfully so. People were concerned and so they would walk our Main Street. But most of the time they were actually riding throughout downtown.”
He says that he feels like it showed people can make appropriate decisions when given that freedom, especially for their own health.