VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Darrin Dawson said he can always depend on busy streets, crowds, and profit at least twice a year which is Bike Week and Biketoberfest.
"It's madness. You can't even walk in here!" he said.
COVID-19 has changed that. Dawson works for Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley Davidson on the iconic Main Street. The store is equipped with shields, signs and masks that are for sale. But, he said sales have still declined due to the pandemic because it cut Bike Week short and they were forced to close for the month of April.
"We are dependent on bike events in town," he said.
This year’s Biketoberfest is up in the air on how it’ll be run. Daytona Beach City Commissioners had a discussion on Wednesday night if it should allow special use permits, which shuts down streets and widens the use of sidewalks. Dawson said that permit encourages folks to explore what stores have to offer.
“They park all their bikes alongside the road. Everybody is just hanging out, having a good time. I definitely think it will affect our business for sure,” said Dawson.
Officials said the event brings in about $16 million.
“Biketoberfest is an economic driver for the community and it’s an important event. I don’t want to minimize it in any way,” said Mayor Derrick Henry.
Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry said he’s not comfortable giving the green light on permits that could encourage crowds during a pandemic.
“The most important thing is that we protect our citizens and the health and welfare of our residents as well as our country. But, the second thing is we don’t want to give off the impression that we’re not supportive of our businesses,” he said.
Mayor Henry said commissioners can revisit the topic if there’s a decline in COVID-19 cases.