A Native American spokesman said a convoy made up of thousands of bikers heading to a rally in South Dakota will not be allowed to cross the Cheyenne River Sioux checkpoints on the way to the event.
The spokesman said on Saturday that the group of travelers would be stopped en route to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further.
The seven tribes that make up the Sioux nation are currently battling federal and state officials who deemed such checkpoints illegal.
An officer on duty in the Cheyenne River Sioux told the Guardian on Saturday that utility and emergency vehicles were allowed to pass through the checkpoints, nothing else. Some reservations have allegedly already rejected bikers.
Crowds had gathered at the start of the 10-day event on Friday and many bikers took an attitude of defiance of the COVID-19 restrictions that have drastically changed daily life.
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“Screw COVID,” read the design on one of the T-shirts sold. “I went to Sturgis.”
Governor Kristi Noem, a Republican, backed the Sturgis rally, citing the fact that no infections were reported due to President Trump’s event on the mountain. Rushmore last month. She also avoided a mask mandate and emphasized the idea of personal responsibility.
For Stephen Sample (66), who lives in Arizona and rode his bike to the event, the meeting is a break from the mostly monotonous routine of recent months.
“I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to be cooped up all my life either,” he said.
Part of the crowd in Sturgis is made up of pensioners and people in the age group at risk of the coronavirus.
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However, entrepreneurs like bar owner Marsha Schmid are trying to prevent their establishment from becoming a virus hotspot. She cleaned tables, offered hand sanitizer and reduced the number of staff at the rally to contain the disease.
Other local residents wanted the rally to be postponed, but companies insisted they needed the event to stave off further economic ruins that had arisen as a result of the shutdowns.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report