NH issues mask mandate ahead of motorcycle rally: 'Sturgis was a real clear warning'

New Hampshire Gov. Chris SununuChris SununuThe electoral reality that the media ignores Overnight Health Care: New Ebola outbreak in Congo raises alarm | CDC director says teachers don't need 'critical' label New Hampshire to allow restaurants to fully open for indoor dining MORE (R) has issued a mask mandate ahead of a large motorcycle rally later this month in the state.

New Hampshire is set to host the Laconia motorcycle rally from Aug. 22-30, a smaller version of the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. The New Hampshire event normally attracts thousands of people to the Granite State.

The order, which requires people in attendance at gatherings of 100 or more people to wear a mask, was enacted by Sununu after he watched videos of attendees who were gathering close together at the Sturgis rally over the weekend without protection.


"Sturgis was a real clear warning sign to us," Sununu said during a Tuesday press conference. "I don't think anyone saw the photos out of Sturgis and said, 'That looks safe.' No, I think it just brought a second level of awareness to us on all these different matters."

Those who attended the rally in South Dakota were encouraged, but not required, to wear a facial covering. The 10-day event that started on Friday is estimated to attract about 250,000 people to the state. 

South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemSouth Dakota AG issues statement on fatal crash, says 'I discovered the body' Authorities confirm South Dakota attorney general involved in fatal crash South Dakota governor defends Sturgis rallygoers: 'Exercised their personal freedom to attend' MORE (R) welcomed the rally, citing the state's relatively low coronavirus case counts after President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden on Trump's refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power: 'What country are we in?' Romney: 'Unthinkable and unacceptable' to not commit to peaceful transition of power Two Louisville police officers shot amid Breonna Taylor grand jury protests MORE's Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore. 

The mandate comes as the U.S. still struggles to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Cases have ticked down in a number of states in recent weeks, but still remain at high levels.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire has seen a consistent decline in cases since its peak in May, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

The order issued by Sununu is not as strict as some issued by counterparts in other New England states. In Massachusetts, for example, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) issued a mask mandate on May 6 requiring people to wear facial coverings in all public spaces when social distancing is not possible.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) issued a similar order in May, requiring residents to wear masks in public spaces if they cannot maintain social distancing.