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How one of America's biggest motorcycle makers is planning for Sturgis during the COVID-19 pandemic

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·2 min read

Indian Motorcycle maker Polaris (PII) is taking extra precautions ahead of what could be an enormous rally of biking fans at Sturgis, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re planning to approach it in a very careful manner. We are limiting the number of employees that will be exposed. We are leveraging our dealerships, which have proved they have got a true capability to ensure customer safety,” Polaris CFO Michael Speetzen told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.

Speetzen added, “As we do demo rides and allow people to experience our products, we’ll do it in a way that keeps them safe and makes sure we are keeping employees and the dealership employees safe when they are interacting. It [Sturgis] is an important part of the business in terms of getting customers the ability to have access to the vehicles and get to touch and feel and see how great the products can be in that part of the world.”

STURGIS, SD - AUGUST 3:  A biker rides downtown on the first day of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally August 3, 2015 in Sturgis, South Dakota.  This year marks the 75th anniversary of the rally, with crowds of up to 1.2 million people expected to visit.    (Photo by Andrew Cullen/Getty Images)
STURGIS, SD - AUGUST 3: A biker rides downtown on the first day of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally August 3, 2015 in Sturgis, South Dakota. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the rally, with crowds of up to 1.2 million people expected to visit. (Photo by Andrew Cullen/Getty Images)

The annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held in South Dakota has always been one of the most important events for the motorcycle industry. It brings veteran riders together with those interested in the sport, which could get up close and personal with top brands such as Harley-Davidson (HOG) and Indian via demo rides. All in all, it’s a true celebration of the sport of riding — and is slated to be held starting August 7-16.

But this year, what’s expected to be a crowd of 250,000-plus (a typical year sees north of 400,000 visitors) will descend on South Dakota during the raging COVID-19 pandemic. The expectation of hearty crowds have the 7,000 residents of Sturgis fearful of the health risk, with some saying the spectacle should be canceled.

More than 60% of Sturgis residents polled by the city think the event should be canceled this year, reports NBC News.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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