Thousands of attendees, many without masks, gathered in a massive crowd for Smash Mouth's performance at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

By Eric Todisco
August 11, 2020 01:56 PM
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Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth
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Smash Mouth performed over the weekend at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota for a crowd that clearly violated social distance orders amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As seen in a video shared on Twitter by news reporter Connor Matteson, thousands of attendees, the majority of which were not seen wearing masks, gathered in a massive crowd for the annual 10-day event.

"We're all here together now and we’re being human once again," lead singer Steve Harwell could be heard saying in the video, before he added, "F--- that COVID s---," which earned cheers and laughs from the audience.

A rep for Smash Mouth did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

In a statement to Billboard, the band's manager Robert Hayes said that they spent "endless hours" ensuring the rally was safe to perform at and were "very happy" with the outcome.

"The Smash Mouth organization is taking this pandemic very seriously and has taken measures to keep our band, crew and fans as safe as possible during this time," he said.

Hayes also told the outlet that "most" attendees were on their motorcycles which "eliminated a lot of physical contact between attendees and actually created a forced social distance."

Smash Mouth
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On Friday, thousands of cyclists began arriving in Sturgis, South Dakota, many of whom were not seen wearing masks —which visitors are not being required to wear.

At the rally, a shirt was also being sold that read "Screw COVID I went to Sturgis," according to the Associated Press, which had a reporter on the scene.

A total of 250,000 visitors are expected to attend the annual 10-day event, which typically attracts crowds of 500,000, according to ABC News.

Rod Woodruff, who operates a campground and concert venue outside the city, told USA Today that despite the official estimate, many believe that this year's festival, which is already on track to be the largest gathering in the country since the pandemic began, is "going to be bigger than ever."

Motorcyclists arrive in Sturgis, South Dakota, ahead of the start of the annual event
Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
A woman watching a band perform at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

In a recent city survey, over 60 percent of Sturgis residents said they would rather the rally be postponed, but the city decided to go ahead with the event — which generates millions for the town —making a number of modifications with safety in mind.

"In addition to the normal cleaning efforts, nightly sanitization of sidewalk areas will take place in the downtown area," the city wrote in a press release, noting the continuance of the city's Good Deeds program, which provides a free contactless delivery service for residents with pre-existing conditions or health concerns.

Additionally, the city has canceled a number of events, including parades and concerts, which they hope will reduce crowding in the city's downtown hub. Mayor Mark Carstensen also told CNN that the city will be setting up sanitation stations and providing masks

Visitors attending a concert in Sturgis on Friday
Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Gov. Kristi Noem has seemed unconcerned about the risk, saying that South Dakota is "in a good spot."

"I trusted my people, they trusted me, and South Dakota is in a good spot in our fight against COVID-19," Gov. Noem tweeted last Thursday. "The #Sturgis motorcycle rally starts this weekend, and we're excited for visitors to see what our great state has to offer!"

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