Here comes Friday the 13th.

In Port Dover, that means the roar of motorcycles and tens of thousand of visitors, many of whom spend money on merchandise and meals.

For 40 years, the beach town on Lake Erie has drawn crowds every time the superstitious date rolls around.

But the COVID-19 pandemic prompted officials to urge two-wheeled enthusiasts to stay away.

This weekend there will be fewer restrictions for the first time in a long time.

It won’t be exactly business as usual.

Some stores are planning to sell their goods outside only and Friday’s gathering will have limited food and drink offerings because it won’t be a sanctioned event, according to Peter Knetchell, owner of Callahan’s Beach House.

Still, business owners like Elaine Pring, of On The Fringe Leather, are getting ready and banking on visitors to help them survive the winter after long closures caused by COVID-19.

“The county is saying it’s a non-event,” she said. “But they’re still preparing for it a little bit because we know that there’s going to be crowds coming.”

Back in March, Norfolk County officials were telling bikers not to come to Port Dover.

Since 1981, bikers have gathered in the area by Lake Erie every Friday the 13th. But the COVID-19 pandemic altered that tradition.

In March Sarah Page, chief of paramedic services said “We have no assurances, while we are doing our best, that we will have a grand number of people vaccinated by then. And having visitors from all over Ontario and the country coming to our location puts unnecessary stress on our health teams, on our residents and on our emergency services.”

Back then a steering committee of representatives from bylaw enforcement and emergency services — like the fire department, the OPP and paramedic services — recommended that council “use all means necessary to deter attendance and participation.”

“The aftermath of a large public gathering, with minimal ability to control physical distancing, mask usage, and contact tracing, will present significant challenges for public health, emergency services, local hospitals and health care providers,” it said in a staff report. 

The report pointed to the massive 80th Sturgis motorcycle rally across the border, which went ahead in western South Dakota, U.S., in August 2020. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the rally, resulting in infections in other states. 

 

 

 

Source From CBC News

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