The coronavirus pandemic caused Burning Man from 2020, which was scheduled for the week before Labor Day, to go virtual for the first time in 30 years. However, this didn’t stop thousands of fans from holding their own makeshift festivals.
Despite social distancing guidelines and restrictions on face-to-face gatherings, a crowd of avid Burning Man fans were seen celebrating the festival on the beaches of San Francisco and in the Nevada desert, where the Black Rock City Exhibition Center is set up every year.
Videos on social media capturing the illegal gatherings – including a Saturday on Ocean Beach in San Francisco with over 1
Part of the conviction was San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who went on Twitter to describe the participants as “ruthless” and “selfish” for overcrowding the city’s beaches.
—London Breed (@LondonBreed) September 6, 2020
Ahead of the last night of Burning Man on Sunday, Breed said the San Francisco police had stepped up patrols and closed the Ocean Beach parking lot to prevent another large gathering.
Although California’s Bay Area was celebrated early in the pandemic for taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the region saw a massive surge in reported cases in July and August. As of Monday afternoon, nearly 100,000 cases had been reported in the San Francisco area.
The Nevada Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the area including Black Rock City, told news outlets that campers gathered in the desert were “aware” but said they could do so as long as they were socially aware keep distancing rules.
Burning Man Project, the organization behind the festival, released a statement late Sunday evening calling for this “honor”[ing] Burning Man culture “so as not to” assemble unsafe in large groups “.
The music and arts festival draws more than 80,000 visitors each year, including a slew of wealthy influencers and Silicon Valley tech freaks who built a temporary, miles-wide campground called Black Rock City in the Nevada desert that can be seen from space. However, Burning Man organizers said in April that they would be holding the event practically this year and offered refunds to those who had already purchased tickets.
Burning Man also received a large loan through the federal paycheck protection program, which was set up to help businesses avoid the economic burden of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the filing, Burning Man received PPP loans between $ 2 million and $ 5 million.