SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) — El Dorado County wants people to stop traveling to South Lake Tahoe during the coronavirus pandemic, saying a swell of travelers into the area is depleting supplies and food.
On Friday, the county’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Nancy Williams, issued a no-travel order “to reduce the number of visitors and other non-fulltime residents in the basin.” The order to stop all non-essential travel will remain in place until April 30 unless it is extended or modified.
Police can enforce this order, but the county hopes people will do the right thing.
“If it’s good for us, then it’s good for the environment. We all need to be safe right now,” said Leanne Crowell, a Placerville resident.
The county specifically called out people in the Bay Area traveling to Tahoe for a change of scenery, saying that’s a problem because the Bay Area has substantially more cases of coronavirus that could be transmitted. The influx of people also puts a strain on local resources like grocery stores and pharmacies.
The order comes more than a week after South Lake Tahoe’s Mayor Jason Collin issued the public request for non-residents to stay away.
“Visitors whom we enthusiastically welcome during normal times are further impacting an already decreased availability of essential supplies and food, and putting the entire Lake Tahoe population at greater risk of being able to receive proper health care,” Williams said in a press release Friday.
Last week, Collin asked the city’s 1,400 permitted short term vacation home rental owners to cease renting for 30 days, and he requested hotels and motels do the same.
— Anna Giles (@AnnaGilesTV) April 4, 2020
“We want our visitors to know that we love them, but we don’t want them to come up to Tahoe right now,” Collin said. “Most people are coming up here to shelter in place in a beautiful place and so I can’t blame them, but what I ask is that people do stay home.”
Barton Memorial Hospital is South Lake Tahoe’s only hospital and it has just 60 beds.
Hospital President Dr. Clint issued a statement reading: “Those visiting from out of the area can further the virus’ spread and put local resources, including healthcare delivery, at risk. That is why we are asking those outside our community to not visit at this time.”
Some people CBS 13 talked to in Placerville did not support the order.
“It’s hard to restrict travel because people have whatever reason they want to go up there,” said Rachael Friend, who lives in Placerville.
Friend believes Tahoe should be open to anyone in a time of high stress and anxiety.
“I literally just got back from Tahoe today. I took a day trip up there because I needed to get away, stayed six feet away from anyone I saw, did my part and then left,” she said.
The county was not specific on what enforcement would look like. CBS13 called multiple California Highway patrol offices who said they have not be given any direction to enforce this order.