- New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu saw photos of crowded streets and bars with unmasked bikers at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota and realised his state needed to prepare.
- Like at Sturgis, Laconia Motorcycle Week is expected to bring around 250,000 bikers to New Hampshire at the end of August.
- Calling Sturgis a “warning sign,” Sununo issued a mask requirement for everyone at a scheduled gathering of 100 or more people.
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When New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu saw photos of dense crowds of unmasked bikers at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, he realised his state needed to prepare for its own influx of bikers at the end of August.
Sununu issued a mask requirement for all scheduled gatherings of 100 people or more ahead of Laconia Motorcycle Week, which is expected to bring around 250,000 bikers to the “Live Free or Die” state at the end of the month.
“Sturgis was a real, clear warning sign to us. I don’t think anyone saw the photos from Sturgis and said, ‘that looks safe.’ No. ” Sununu, a Republican, said at a press conference Tuesday. “I think it just brought a second level of awareness to us on all these different matters.”
The Sturgis rally brought hundreds of thousands of bikers to a small city of around 7,000 year-round residents.
Because the annual gathering isn’t a ticketed or gated event, city officials felt they had no true way of cancelling it. They told Insider they did their best to prepare for an influx of visitors in the middle of a pandemic. But that preparation didn’t include a mask requirement, because South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has resisted ordering one.
Sununu decided to take a different approach: New Hampshire will impose fines against event organisers who fail to enforce the mandate, which was put immediately into effect on Tuesday.
State prosecutors are working on what those fines would look like, according to Sununu, who said work and school will not fall under the requirement.
Laconia Motorcycle Week spans from August 22 to 30. Bike shows, ceremonies, and events will be held each day. The rally, which is in its 97th year, usually takes place in June but was postponed due to COVID-19.
“That was a very different event. They had a whole different approach to health and safety,” Sununu said of Sturgis. “Our event won’t be nearly as big, not nearly as crowded.”
- Read more:
- This is what it looks like in Sturgis, South Dakota, where hundreds of thousands of unmasked bikers are partying like the coronavirus isn’t real
- Sturgis motorcycle rally attendees lounge in bikinis, pack into bars, and mock mask wearers: ‘It’s like COVID does not exist here’
- ‘It’s literally impossible to stop’: Sturgis, South Dakota, braces for hundreds of thousands of bikers to arrive for an event in the middle of a pandemic