LACONIA — Motorcycle Week is just under four months away. But with the coronavirus pandemic an ongoing concern, questions are emerging about exactly how this year’s event will look.
The City Council said Monday that it wants to discuss plans for the annual rally at its next meeting.
“It’s not too early,” said Councilor Bob Hamel, who asked the issue be placed on the agenda for the March 8 meeting.
The Laconia Motorcycle Week Association has started promoting the event, tentatively scheduled for June 12-20.
Last year’s event was moved to the latter part of August, and many of the traditional elements in Weirs Beach were scrapped because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Motorcycle Week Association Executive Director Charlie St. Clair said because the situation surrounding the pandemic is still fluid, it would be better to hold the discussion in early April when hopefully there will be a clearer idea of what the COVID situation might look like in mid-June.
“It would make sense to make a decision when there is more information and data,” St. Clair said.
The delay would give organizers and city officials an opportunity to assess COVID’s impact on Daytona Beach Bike Week, which is scheduled for March 4 through 14.
“It’s too early now to see how things go in Daytona,” St. Clair said.
Daytona Beach officials gave their approval for the rally last month. There will be few restrictions. However, bars and restaurants have offered to voluntarily reduce their indoor occupancies by 40 percent.
Another consideration is what impact the ongoing COVID vaccination programs might have on the prudence of large gatherings this summer.
St. Clair said commercial vendors are already inquiring whether they will be able to come to this year’s Motorcycle Week after being barred last year as part of an effort to discourage crowds of motorcyclists from gathering on Lakeside Avenue in Weirs Beach.
Assuming the city allows Motorcycle Week to go ahead pretty much as usual, the 15 vendor spaces that the city rents on the Boardwalk are spoken for, according to Nancy Brown, the administrative assistant in the city manager’s office. Some vendors rent as many as three of the 10- by 12-foot spaces, Brown noted.
St. Clair said the association would follow the same COVID precautions as last year, including placing sanitizing stations up and down Lakeside Avenue, encouraging the use of face masks and sanitizing high-touch areas, such as hand railings, with hospital-grade disinfectants.
City Manager Scott Myers told the council the city is also looking to the latest COVID data and guidelines as it considers whether to impose capacity limits at city beaches this summer and whether to operate the day camp program during July and August. Last year the city imposed a 1,000-person cap at Weirs Beach and canceled the day camp program at Opechee Park because of the pandemic.