Daytona Beach, FL - While it's not expected to be one of the biggest Biketoberfests, it will definitely be one for the record books.
Especially with a number of local municipalities, including Daytona Beach, the main hub for Biketoberfest, denying any special outdoor vendor permits for the age-old motorcycle rally—which has held an east Volusia County residency since the early 1990's. But, regardless of the denials from multiple city councils and commissions, the event officially kicked off Thursday morning (October 15th).
That same afternoon, Volusia County officials, along with Daytona Police Chief Craig Capri and Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood, met to discuss the county's recent COVID-19 figures and to provide an update on Biketoberfest. And, so far, the story seems to be the same: no one is expecting a large event, but they're still expecting crowds.
With that in mind, officials have made numerous statements for event goers to be mindful of large crowds, citing COVID-19's effectiveness at spreading amongst a close group. Masks are encouraged, along with social distancing, but there will be no public enforcement.
"We're not the social distancing police and we're not the mask police," said Sheriff Chitwood. "That's not what we're out there to do."
Chitwood—who recently battled COVID-19—further added that he wants to see visitors enjoy themselves, but he also wants individuals to remain congnizant of the risks associated with the virus.
"I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy," said Chitwood. "If you're going to be in a jam-packed room, you heard it over and over again, wear a mask."
"We hope people will be respectful," added Chief Capri.
Officials are also aware of the other risk associated with COVID-19 and Biketoberfest, the chance of cases increasing once again—something Dr. Holly Smith, Communications Director for the county's Department of Health, said to expect.
"The virus is still here, it hasn't gone away and it's a highly communicable disease," said Smith. "You can expect to see cases increase, to what extent I can't comment on that now. We'll see what comes up in the next couple of weeks with the data."
Lately, the Volusia area has seen an average of 50 new cases per day, along with a few upticks in COVID-19 related deaths scattered throughout the passing weeks.
For up to date information regarding COVID-19 and your local area, be sure to check out News Daytona Beach's Community Coronavirus Dashboard.