Tens of thousands of mostly maskless motorcyclists have converged in Daytona Beach for a rally that could see as many as 400,000 gather amid the pandemic.
Officials in the coastal Florida city allowed bars to open at 60 percent indoor capacity for the annual Bike Week — limitations that it hopes will help the city avoid a repeat of the Sturgis, South Dakota rally that was linked to COVID-19 outbreaks last summer.
“I’m grateful to be open for Bike Week, grateful that the city allowed the vendors and the full Bike Week thing,” said Bobby Honeycutt, owner of Froggy’s Saloon, told The Daytona Beach News-Journal as the 10-day event began Friday.
The bar is limited to 102 customers inside, but is also serving drinks outside.
Bike Week is expected to draw between 300,000 and 400,000 bikers, shy of the typical attendance of a half million people, according to organizers.
“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 Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Sam Acquaro said he is attending his 46th straight Bike Week — even though he thinks his son contracted COVID-19 at last year’s rally.
“It really attacked him, and he had to have caught that here,” he said. “So I haven’t been in a restaurant since,” said Acquaro, who plans to stay indoors.
At John’s Rock N Ride souvenir store, owner Johnny Sanchez was selling a lot more $3 beers than the designer masks he offered for $7. Almost none of his bar patrons sported a face covering.
“As far as masks are concerned, they are paying little attention to that,” Sanchez said, with a shrug. “It’s just the way it is. What can you do?”
With Post wires