Measures taken to keep bikers away from Port Dover on Friday the 13th
PORT DOVER, ONT. -- "Please, stay away."
That’s the clear message from Norfolk County as it prepares, in advance, for Friday the 13th this November in Port Dover.
The beach town is overrun by thousands of motorcycles each time a Friday the 13th falls on the calendar.
While the upcoming date will coincide with the possibility of winter-like weather, politicians are out to prevent the pilgrimage from contributing to the spread of COVID-19.
Norfolk County Mayor Kristal Chopp says council voted unanimously on Tuesday to enact measures designed to discourage bikers.
Efforts will include a media messaging campaign in neighbouring municipalities and a denial of all vendor permits.
In addition, a formal advisory to the province warning - that if the weather holds - a large gathering is bound to happen in Port Dover, has been sent.
Chopp says she wanted the premier forewarned, in case it opted to use its jurisdiction to limit access to Port Dover.
Further, she hopes the vast majority of bikers will simply opt to stay home.
“It’s a minor sacrifice this year for the greater good.”
Along Port Dover’s main drag, word of an effort to stop bikers - and their wallets - from coming to town is being met with mixed reviews.
Just as elsewhere business here have been hurt, badly, by COVID-19.
Dave Mercey owns The Coffee Shop cafe. He usually welcomes the arrival of the bikers, “We probably do three of four times more than we would normally do on a Friday."
But, come this Nov. 13, he, and his wife Kathy have decided the revenue boost isn’t worth the risk. Their doors will stay closed.
However, the door of Trust and Faith Ink, a tattoo shop not far away will stay open.
Owner Melissa Dehann says she understands health concerns but with COVID-19 precautions in place, she’s upset council is taking away a significant portion of her revenue.
“Normally on a Friday the 13th in the summer we would make more in one day than we could and a whole entire month.”
Back at The Coffee Shop, local residents have empathy for business owners, but resident Tony Colucci tells CTV News the efforts to limit crowds, is for the greater good.
“The town will lose some money, but still it is about being safe."
Sipping her coffee, Pat Forrest agreed, but she still believes the bikers will come anyway.
“I hope it does not cause virus in Norfolk. I hope they don’t bring anything with them."
Even if they do stay away this time, the next Friday the 13th falls in the summer season, on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021.
If the pandemic has not eased, that could pose and even greater risk with much larger crowds a certainty.