The 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is on for Aug. 7-16 this year.
The Sturgis City Council made its official 8-1 decision during Monday night’s meeting, which included considerations to approve preparations and street closures for the Rally.
The option, one of four, the council approved would allow the city to put the residents’ safety first while continuing planning the 80th Rally, according to city manager Daniel Ainslie’s report.
Ainslie said a caveat in the plan would allow Mayor Mark Carstensen to “cease any portion of the City of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally preparations, causing an undue health burden and take alternate actions,” if he received written documentation from local health officials, the South Dakota Department of Health, the governor’s office, the CDC or other agencies.
“We must be prepared to manage the number of people that do attend,” Ainslie said during the meeting.
The plan would cancel the use of fairgrounds, the B-1 flyover, photo towers, $105,000 in advertising, opening ceremonies and more.
Ainslie said having the Rally would allow the city to make guidelines for vendors, including social distancing and sanitizing. If the city canceled it, they wouldn’t be able to set those guidelines.
“The 80th would be greatly modified, it would not be what was planned six months to a year ago, Ainslie said. “It would be as safe as possible in city limits and what’s in city control.”
Ainslie also said the city is looking into mass testing to follow the Rally, although it’s not a guarantee, as well as looking into additional personal protection equipment for city employees.
Members of city staff reached out from mid-May to early June to local businesses, residents, campgrounds, hotels and state and federal legislators to gauge thoughts on hosting the Rally amid the COVID-19 pandemic — there have been 5,928 active cases in South Dakota, 892 of which are still active.
The city also sent out a survey to 3,290 of its residents using addresses from the 2020 Census. About half of those surveys were returned with the majority (62.9%) indicating they’d like the Rally to be postponed.
During the June 8 special City Council meeting, city manager Daniel Ainslie recommended postponing the Rally until 2021, but preparing for the hundreds of thousands of people likely to make their way to the Black Hills.
During that meeting, Ainslie said to not prepare for the mass of people would turn into a health and safety risk.
The Buffalo Chip’s founder and president Rod “Woody” Woodruff told the Journal in late May that his campground has plans to continue full steam ahead with the Rally, although it’s had to find some replacement acts for the concerts.
“I can’t imagine not being here when (people) get here,” he said at the time.
Although the shows will go on, The Buffalo Chip will have social distancing guidelines in place and hand sanitizer available for purchase.
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