Planners likely to make decision on Sturgis Rally in June

STURGIS, S.D. (KBHB) – Planners will use the next two months going through a list of protocols in determining whether or not the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a go for 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sturgis City Council released a set of protocols last week that will be used when making the decision to hold or cancel South Dakota’s biggest tourism event of the year.

Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen says the city has determined that it will make a decision based upon empirical data that will focus on whether the state is capable of hosting a larger number of visitors and if the areas where visitors usually come from have a high probability of carrying the COVID-19 virus.

He says they will consider the number of hospital beds available, ventilators available and the virus case growth in South Dakota and other states. The city will also reach out to federal, state and local leaders — not just in South Dakota, but states that have a large presence at the rally.

Carstensen says the city will continue to follow the situation through the month of May and expect a decision by their June 15 council meeting – that is seven-and-a-half weeks before the start of the Rally on Aug. 7.

Mayor Carstensen says before hosting any event, the city must be reasonably ensured that it would not levy an undue burden on the health of our residents and our health care services.

He and City leaders have said not having the rally would be a big blow to Sturgis and the state.

He says beyond the additional revenue for 43-percent of residents, many of the city’s businesses are heavily dependent upon Rally revenue. City leaders expect significant negative impacts up to and including foreclosures for some community businesses if the rally is canceled.