Healthcare officials report the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the region is growing; Placer County supports statewide ‘Stay Home’ order by requesting second homeowners stay in their primary residence and short-term rental operators to adhere to the Governor’s order.
As the statewide order to shelter-in-place continues and COVID-19 impacts mount in the region, the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association is actively asking visitors and those whose primary residences are not in the area to adhere to Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order to stay at home. To comply with the governor’s order, Placer County is enforcing short-term rental restrictions. These restrictions come in addition to event cancelations and the closure of lodging properties, retail businesses, ski resorts, recreation services, state parks, restaurants, bars, and other “non-essential” businesses.
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“Although it is difficult to ask those who support our tourism-driven economy not to visit now, their selfless decision to stay home and revisit their travel plans when travel is deemed safe is critical to the health and future of our mountain community,” said Jeffrey Hentz, CEO of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. “The reality is that continuing to receive an influx of people to the region — whether they’re coming for a day-trip or an extended stay — puts tremendous strain on our limited community resources and healthcare system during these challenging times.”
Placer County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson underscored the message earlier this week by asking day-trip visitors and non-primary residents to heed the call to stay at home and not travel to Tahoe during this crisis.
“Please recognize that Tahoe, as a small community, has very limited hospital capacity; Tahoe Forest Hospital serves at least four counties. There are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Tahoe region and evidence of community spread, so any impression that there is a ‘safe’ haven from virus transmission is false,” said Sisson.
Travel to the region for a non-essential purpose will contribute to the spread of COVID-19 and has the potential to overwhelm local health systems. It is also contributing to the struggle local stores are faced with in keeping shelves stocked with basic needs and produce. Pharmacies are also at risk of being overwhelmed, and emergency response crews are compromised when they are required to travel into the backcountry to extract those unable to get out themselves. With winter storms in the extended forecast, what some may anticipate as a short trip to North Lake Tahoe could easily turn into a longer stay due to weather, further stretching local resources.
“Most Tahoe area businesses are closed, and a high percentage of full-time residents have been impacted by the resulting, unexpected layoffs,” said Cindy Gustafson, Placer County District 5 Supervisor. “In collaboration with the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, the County is working for and with the local business community to provide resources for recovery so that together, we can come back stronger and welcome visitors and second homeowners back to Tahoe with open arms when travel is both safe and appropriate.”
The travel and leisure industries comprise over 60 percent of the jobs in North Lake Tahoe, and visitor spending averages over $835 million annually. Visit California already anticipates unprecedented economic impacts to the statewide travel industry, eclipsing the impact of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by sevenfold. The organization estimates a statewide loss of $10.9 billion in revenue, a decline in direct visitor spending by $54.5 billion, and a loss of 554,000 jobs this year.
“We realize that for many, the Sierra region is a place that feels comfortable to ‘escape to.’ We want this destination to still be that for people, but not until travel is deemed safe. This is in everyone’s best interest,” said Hentz. “So instead of visiting now, we hope visitors and non-primary residents will stay home to help protect our community and theirs, flatten the curve, and find other ways to support North Lake Tahoe area businesses that are reliant on tourism.”
Here are seven ways to provide immediate support to Tahoe area small businesses:
1. Donate to the Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe’s COVID-19 Relief Efforts in support of local families
2. Purchase gift cards from Tahoe area businesses to be used at a later date
3. Contribute to the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund to support local nonprofit organizations assisting the community
4. Buy a family-friendly activity box packed with locally-made goods
5. Live stream an exercise class offered by one of our local fitness or yoga instructors
6. Participate in a virtual field trip or tour
7. Postpone travel plans and visit when North Lake Tahoe is back in business
The North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and Chamber of Commerce is collaborating with local business associations, the Sierra Business Council and Placer County Economic Development to provide additional resources for local business and community recovery. Community updates, including how to support local businesses will continue to be updated at www.nltra.org/north-lake-tahoecovid-19-community-update.