SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS SF) — The holiday exodus from the San Francisco Bay Area to the wintry wonders of Lake Tahoe was placed in the deep freeze early Friday as a stay at home order was issued for El Dorado County.
The county has been grouped with the Sacramento area in one of California’s five COVID regions. Once a region falls below 15 percent in the level of ICU beds available, emergency shutdown measures must go into effect. Those measures began rolling out in South Lake Tahoe, Truckee and Tahoe City at 11:50 p.m. Thursday.READ MORE: UPDATE: Crews Contain Pleasanton Vegetation Fire Near Interstate 680; Evacuations Lifted
Restaurants are limited to just take-out, hotels and other lodging restricted to just essential travelers and other businesses are also severely impacted. So far, ski resorts have been exempted from the order by Gov. Gavin Newsom, but they must operate with social distancing safety measures in place.
Health officials across the San Francisco Bay Area are urging local residents not to travel until January, but the advisory has not reached the levels of enforcement as in March or April.
The new order has caught many Tahoe area visitors by surprise.
“We spent 4 and a half hours driving here now everything is closed and we are sitting in a hotel eating lunch,” said Mikayla Angle. “Our trip is cut short.”
Jason Tyan was also among the visitors who will be going home early.READ MORE: PG&E Crews Responding to Outage Affecting Over 6,000 Customers in Mission, Twin Peaks
“My family and I go to Tahoe every year for skiing,” he said. “It’s pretty fun and it’s pretty sad this happens.”
Like elsewhere in the state, the shutdown will place a heavy fiscal burden on the businesses that are impacted.
“It will devastate local businesses,” Jerry Kirvida said.
But South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tamara Wallace was also quick to bring up the ski resort exemption.
“We are not closed because our ski resorts are open and the governor did encourage that, I think there are some nuances to it (the order),” Wallace said. “It’s hard to tell people not to come to my community.”
But many local permanent residents think the order is needed to stem the current surge in new cases.MORE NEWS: UPDATE: 3 Charged In Hate Crime Spree Targeting Asian Women Across Bay Area
“I think its a good thing,” said Joseph Potter. “We have to get control of the virus, a lot of people come here from all over and a lot of people don’t want to wear masks for whatever reason.”