Daytona motorcycle rally expected to draw up to 400,000 attendees amid COVID-19 pandemic


Daytona Bike Week in Florida is carrying on as planned despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual event has brought tens of thousands mostly maskless motorcyclists to the city.

According to the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, the organizers of the event, roughly 300,000 to 400,000 people are estimated to attend the 10-day biker rally.

While that may seem like a lot in the COVID-era, that’s down from previous years, which typically sees over 500,000 in attendance.

"We know it's likely to be less just because of COVID concerns, as well as many still struggling to make ends meet due to loss of income from COVID," said Janet Kersey, the chamber's executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Though facial coverings are sparse among the crowds, there are some safety precautions in place.

The city has not set a capacity for bars and business owners who were granted temporary outdoor vending permits. The capacity indoors must be kept to 60%.

Many shop owners like Bobby Honeycutt, owner of Froggy's Saloon are “grateful” for the opportunity to keep their doors open.

"I'm grateful to be open for Bike Week, grateful that the city allowed the vendors and the full Bike Week thing,” he told The Daytona Beach News-Journal per AP.

Jakari Young, Daytona Beach Police Chief, told WESH that enforcing facial coverings and social distancing among employees and patrons is up to individual owners.

“We’re not looking to be the social-distancing police,” he said, adding that police will be on-hand to assist in any situation.

For the first time this year, Main Street will also be closed to all vehicles except motorcycles during the event in hopes of reducing capacity.

Johnny Sanchez, the owner of John’s Rock N Ride souvenir store, admitted that not many people have taken interest in the designer masks he has for sale.

“As far as masks are concerned, they are paying little attention to that,” Sanchez said, adding,“It’s just the way it is. What can you do?”

The event follows the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, which saw over 500,000 people in attendance during the 10-day event in August 2020.

It was later dubbed as a “super-spreader" event, indicating that it's responsible for an influx in positive coronavirus cases.

A study conducted found that about 260,000 new cases may have come from the event and its attendees, which accounts for roughly 19% of the total number of US cases in the month of August.

The state of Florida has seen more than 1.9 million people infected with COVID-19. Statewide deaths since March stand at 32,093 with 5,975 coronavirus cases and 138 deaths on Friday, per the Tampa Bay News.

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