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Ormond Beach Observer Thursday, Sep. 10, 2020 1 year ago

Ormond will issue special event permits for Biketoberfest

Businesses on North U.S. 1 have plenty of outdoor space, unlike the situation in Daytona, said the mayor in a statement.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

The Ormond Beach City Commission has decided permits will be issued both for Biketoberfest vendor events come October 15-18 and for special events on private property. 

The commission previously postponed making a decision back in August, with the majority of the commissioners wanting to see how the COVID-19 trends panned out in the next few weeks. Seeing as the numbers are generally trending downward, four out of five of the commissioners at the Sept. 9 meeting felt comfortable issuing permits allowing for itinerant vending and outdoor activities in the North U.S. 1 corridor. 

"Any type of relief that we could do for these businesses and for our community members that are going to work in these businesses, is a positive thing to do," City Commissioner Troy Kent said.

Staff also asked the commissioners for direction on allowing outdoor concerts, and Mayor Bill Partington clarified in an emailed statement that they are "still up in the air." Event organizers wishing to hold a concert must present a safety plan to the city showcasing how COVID-19 precautions will be put in place. 

Partington stated that the discussion at last night's meeting was never about whether or not the city was going to allow Biketoberfest to happen. The bikers are coming regardless. Daytona Beach may have nixed special event permitting for Biketoberfest, but Partington said the U.S. 1 corridor in Ormond is "a very different place than what they have in Daytona Beach."

"We have businesses with acres of outdoors space where attendees can spread out," said Partington in his statement. "Allowing outside vendors will keep traffic flowing and free up space indoors so that there can be proper social distancing. More people outside in the open air is a good thing and we have asked for COVID-19 safety plans from all host sites to assure that proper precautions are being taken."

Seven people spoke in favor of special event permitting at the meeting, some who have attended motorcycle rallies in towns where permits were allowed, and in others in which they weren't. 

Jacqueline Jones said she has been to all the bike weeks in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic, including Sturgis, where she said the rally went fine. When vendor permits are pulled, people are pushed indoors, she said.

"People are coming, whether the permits are issued or not," Jone said. "It's just a matter of, are they all going to be clustered inside a place?The only people that are being affected is the business owners."

The only commissioner who said she was uncomfortable with the idea of issuing permits was Zone 3 Commissioner Susan Persis, who felt that citizen safety should be a priority and large gatherings put people at risk for COVID-19. 

"I know all the vendors will do everything they can to follow the CDC guidelines and do everything to keep everyone safe, but we have no way to control what people do," Persis said. "We don't have any kind of law or ordinance in Ormond Beach. We can't enforce the safety guidelines."


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