Update #24
COVID-19 Emergency
April 6, 2020 - 7 pm
Still 3 Confirmed Cases in City of Big Bear Lake,
2 in Big Bear City Area

Drive-Thru Testing Event Tentatively Scheduled
for Friday, April 17

Closing The Mountain is Not So Simple, City Has Implemented All Other Strategies to Keep Our Community Safe

Significant Snow Expected This Week - No Snow Play Permitted!

Summary of Current Recommendations and Restrictions
The City of Big Bear Lake is working hard to ensure that the residents, second home owners, investors, businesses, and visitors in our community have the correct information about the status of COVID-19 threats in Big Bear Lake and the City's response to these threats.

This email newsletter is the official guidance from the City of Big Bear Lake, and the City appreciates everyone's adherence to the restrictions and recommendations outlined herein. This email newsletter also serves as the City's official press release regarding the City's COVID-19 response, and press inquiries may be directed to Frank A. Rush, Jr., City Manager, at 909-866-5832 or via email.
To be sure you are receiving the latest and most accurate information, please sign up for this email newsletter by clicking here . PLEASE share this email newsletter with anyone and everyone, as we want to reach as many people as possible with this information. Thank you!
Thankfully, there is no change in the total number of confirmed cases today. There remain a total of 3 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the City of Big Bear Lake and 2 confirmed cases in the Big Bear City area. HIPAA requirements prohibit the release of additional information about the patients or their specific location.

As of 5 pm today, there were a total of 530 confirmed cases in San Bernardino County. A total of 5,670 tests have been administered thus far in the County, and approximately 9.3% of those tested have been positive for COVID-19. Sadly, a total of 16 people have died from COVID-19 in San Bernardino County (none of the reported COVID-19 deaths are believed to be individuals from the Big Bear Valley.) This data is updated daily at the County's COVID-19 dashboard, and the City encourages everyone to view this site for the most accurate information.
The San Bernardino County Public Health Department has tentatively scheduled a drive-thru COVID-19 testing event for Friday, April 17 in Big Bear Lake. City officials are currently working with County public health officials, Bear Valley Community Hospital officials, the Big Bear Fire Department, the Sheriff's Department, and others to finalize the details, and we expect to provide additional details in the next few days. The County has conducted drive-thru testing events in San Bernardino and Victorville in recent weeks, and we are pleased to offer this service to the public in the Big Bear Valley.
All of us at the City of Big Bear Lake recognize the unprecedented threat facing our community (and every community in California, the United States, and the world), and we are all working hard to keep our community safe and hopefully return to normal as soon as possible. The City's actions have been and continue to be aimed at promoting the health and safety of our residents, and rely heavily on the recommendations of public health officials. In short, although the City is also working hard on strategies to mitigate the severe economic impacts associated with the COVID-19 emergency, these concerns are secondary to the need to keep our community safe.

The City continues to receive suggestions that we should close the mountain and completely prohibit individuals who do not live in Big Bear Valley from entering our community. While that suggestion is understandable during this unprecedented emergency, it is far more complicated than one might initially realize, and the City wants to make sure everyone in our community understands the complexities of this issue.

First, a recap of actions already taken by the City (and the County) to keep our community safe:

  • since March 19, both the City and Visit Big Bear have actively encouraged visitors to postpone their trips to our community, and area lodging and vacation rental managers implemented flexible policies in order to keep visitors away,

  • since March 20, the City has implemented the Governor's "shelter in place" order, with only limited exceptions for essential business activities and isolated outdoor exercise,

  • since March 22, after receiving clarification from State and County officials and legal advice, the City has prohibited lodging facilities and vacation rentals from operating in Big Bear Lake, with only very limited exceptions,

  • since March 23, City enforcement staff have investigated every single complaint alleging unauthorized use of a lodging facility or vacation rental, and have resolved these complaints either by forcing the visitors to leave immediately or by verifying that the owner's family is using the home,

  • since March 19, City officials have engaged in direct communication with Visit Big Bear and representatives for the vacation rental management companies to secure cooperation, and all parties have been extremely cooperative and genuinely concerned for our community,

  • since March 24 City officials have sent multiple individual communications directly to the owners of all self-managed vacation rental units (those managed through online platforms) to advise them that vacation rentals are temporarily prohibited and that online advertising should be suspended through at least April 30, and City officials have also engaged each owner directly through online platforms,

  • since March 25, City officials have been in direct communications with AirBnB officials, who have sent separate communications to their owners to prevent bookings through at least April 30, and

  • since April 5, in anticipation of significant snowfall this week, the City has indicated that all City-owned parking facilities, City parks, and on-street parking facilities are closed, and that snow play activities are not permitted anywhere in the City other than the person's own property, with appropriate enforcement personnel available to respond accordingly.

The City and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department (under contract with the City for law enforcement services - they are essentially our Police Department) continue to monitor activities throughout the City and the entire valley, and there are very few individuals here that are not residents or second home owners in our community. Thankfully, the entire community appears to be acting responsibly, adhering to the restrictions in place, and heeding the recommendations of public health officials. The City greatly appreciates everyone's cooperation, and urges your continued diligence. Together, with everyone's cooperation, we will keep our community safe and we will get through this!

City officials have and continue to consider the possibility of closing the boundaries of the City of Big Bear Lake or "closing the mountain", but it's not as simple of a decision as one may initially perceive. At this time, based on current circumstances in our City, in the valley, in our County, and in our State, such a decision is unlikely to be implemented anytime soon. Here are a few reasons why:

  • It is sometimes noted that fires or snow events have closed the Big Bear Valley in the past, however, it's important to note that the COVID-19 event is unlike any other natural or man-made disaster that any community has ever experienced. This event is literally affecting every single community and every single person at the same time, no one knows exactly how it will all end, nor when it will end. A fire event or a snow event is imminent or immediate, is reasonably predictable, has a somewhat predictable duration, does not affect every community and every person at the same time, and is completely apparent to all. If the City or the mountain is "closed", what does that mean, how long does it last, who receives special exceptions, and if anyone leaves should they be allowed to return?

  • The City of Big Bear Lake has jurisdiction over approximately 6.5 square miles, a little more than 5,000 permanent residents, and just shy of 10,000 housing units. The City limits include only a fraction of all of the land area, permanent residents, and housing units in the valley. The City does not have authority over Big Bear City, Fawnskin, Sugarloaf, or other unincorporated areas, and does not control the 3 State highways leading into the valley. The City could certainly take action to restrict access into and out of the City limits of Big Bear Lake, however, that would not apply to other areas in the valley, and the City may then be in a position to not allow others in the valley to enter the City limits - which is where most of the shopping and services exist - and the City would not want to prevent our neighbors from accessing essential goods and services in any way. Any decision to limit access into or out of the entire Big Bear Valley would require coordination and agreement by all parties, including the City, the County, and all of the other local government entities serving the valley. It can certainly be done, but, again, the COVID-19 event is unlike any other event that may have necessitated this action in the past, with no reliable prediction of the end date.

  • It's also important to note that many of our residents are actively traveling out of the City and the valley to other communities down the hill, including for purchase of essential goods and services, and none of those communities have limited the ability for our residents to visit their communities. What does that say about our community if we believe it's appropriate for us to travel to other communities (who have the same fears and concerns that we all have), but that we need to take action to directly prohibit others from entering our community? Not only are we all in this together in the City of Big Bear Lake and the Big Bear Valley, we're all in this together as Californians and as Americans.

  • If we ultimately evolve to "closing the mountain", it will require the allocation of significant resources to control the 3 primary entrance points to the Big Bear Valley. These resources will likely be provided by the San Bernardino County Sheriff, the California Highway Patrol, or perhaps even the National Guard. These resources are already stretched thin, will continue to be stretched thin, and their ranks may also be impacted by COVID-19. Such an operation would require that each vehicle entering or leaving present some proof of residency or property ownership, and this process will be time consuming and require personal interaction. Additionally, who receives special exceptions? How long is all of this going to last? Are we willing to implement this for weeks or months? Do we prohibit our residents and property owners from leaving and returning? What about your family members who may need to come and go?

  • Finally, if the reason for this action is to limit the spread of COVID-19 into Big Bear Lake or the Big Bear Valley, then it seems prudent that we would not allow our residents to leave and then return, as they could potentially bring the virus back with them. The risk of an individual bringing the virus to our community is identical whether that individual originated in another community or originated in our community, left, acquired the virus, and returned to our community. The reality is that COVID-19 is already in our community, and the most effective way to prevent community transmission is by following the recommendations and restrictions already in place.

With all that said, the COVID-19 emergency remains very fluid and circumstances are constantly evolving. The City of Big Bear Lake and/or the entire Big Bear Valley may ultimately be forced to take action to close the City or close the entire valley, and City officials will work closely and cooperatively with State, County, and other local government leaders if this ultimately becomes necessary. Such an action may be more likely to occur if there is a significant outbreak of COVID-19 here in OUR COMMUNITY, and the State or County must take action to isolate US from others in order to protect THEM, at which point it is possible that the National Guard may be deployed.

Thankfully, there continue to be relatively few cases in Big Bear Lake and the entire valley, and all of us are working hard to keep this number as low as possible. At this point in time, the City believes the cumulative effect of all of the actions already taken, and everyone's continued diligence in limiting interactions to the maximum extent practical, practicing effective social distancing, proper personal hygiene are sufficient to promote the health and safety of our residents.

Again, thank you to everyone for continuing to act responsibly!
Fortunately, snow fall has been relatively light today in Big Bear Lake, with no real accumulation until the last hour. A total of 1 - 2 feet of snow is still predicted for the Big Bear Valley between now and Thursday night.

The City strongly discourages visitors from traveling up the mountain for snow play activities. Governor Newsom has issued a "shelter in place" order across the entire State of California, and everyone should remain sheltered in their home community. Traveling for snow play is obviously not an essential activity.

In Big Bear Lake, both ski resorts are closed, both commercial snow play areas are closed, and no one should be engaging in snow play at any location other than your own property. All public parking lots and on-street public parking spaces in the City of Big Bear Lake are closed, and City enforcement staff will actively ticket and tow vehicles parked illegally on City streets.

Thank you for your cooperation, and for respecting the need to keep our residents safe!
The City of Big Bear Lake has implemented various public health recommendations and restrictions for the past several weeks, and continues to do so.

The City encourages everyone to heed the following recommendations:

  • diligently honor the Governor's order to "shelter in place",

  • limit your interactions with others to the maximum extent practical,

  • plan your essential trips out accordingly, and limit the number of trips to the grocery store, drug store, etc.,

  • keep at least 6 feet of distance between you and others you come into contact with,

  • wash your hands ALL THE TIME,

  • use face coverings when you must go out in the community, but consider them as an additional tool to be used in conjunction with other social distancing and hand washing recommendations, and

  • if you need to get outside, take a walk, go for a run, take a bike ride, or go on a hike by yourself or with your family - but stay far way from others!

The following key restrictions remain in effect in Big Bear Lake:
  • everyone in Big Bear Lake is directed to "shelter in place", especially those age 65 and older and those who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, however, travel is permitted for work and to conduct personal business,

  • snow play is not permitted, except on your own property,

  • grocery stores, drug stores, and other essential retail and service businesses may operate,

  • construction and repair activities may continue,

  • bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, gyms, bowling alleys, ski areas, snow play areas, and other similar businesses may not operate,

  • restaurants are closed for in-restaurant seated dining, however, take-out and delivery services are permitted,

  • lodging and vacation rentals may no longer operate, except for very limited situations,

  • non-essential group gatherings of any size are prohibited, including commercial establishments, churches, community groups, and other formal and informal group activities,

  • isolated, outdoor exercise is permitted, including walking your dog, and

  • City parks and the Alpine Pedal Path remain open, however, these facilities should be enjoyed by yourself, with your small family group, and users should avoid close contact with others.
The City of Big Bear Lake, through its exclusive arrangement with Big Bear Disposal, Inc., operates two solid waste disposal areas on Garstin Drive and across from City Hall. With nearly our entire community sheltering in place, many are understandably taking advantage of this time to engage in spring cleaning activities and disposing of unwanted household items and vegetative debris.

The City is happy to provide these disposal areas for our residents and property owners. It is important to note that these facilities are funded exclusively by our residents, property owners, and visitors and are restricted for use by City of Big Bear Lake residents, property owners, and visitors only. Residents of other areas of the Big Bear Valley should not use these disposal areas, and should make other responsible arrangements for solid waste disposal. Thank you for your cooperation!
City Hall is again providing the full range of City services, and City staff are working hard to manage the City's COVID-19 response AND maintain the high quality of all other City services.

In an effort to promote the safety of our customers and staff, City Hall remains closed to the public for the foreseeable future, however, the City encourages our customers to conduct business with City staff over the telephone or online - or by scheduling an appointment if necessary. If an in-person meeting is necessary, City staff will schedule an appointment with you in City Hall, and in-person meetings will be conducted with effective social distancing measures in a sanitary environment. Please note that customers will be required to wear an effective face covering in order to conduct an in-person meeting with City staff.

To conduct City business over the telephone, or to schedule an in-person appointment, please call (909) 866-5831. To visit the City of Big Bear Lake website, please click here.
San Bernardino County public health officials are now recommending people use face coverings when leaving home to conduct essential business such as grocery shopping, going to a medical appointment, or visiting a pharmacy to help flatten the curve of COVID-19. The County made the recommendation after reviewing guidance released on April 1 from the California Department of Public Health.

Face coverings may include coverings that secure to the ears or back of the head and encompass the mouth and nose. Homemade cloth ear loop covers, bandannas and handkerchiefs, and neck gaiters may be used to reduce the spread of COVID-19, particularly among asymptomatic people.

"Staying home, practicing social distancing, and frequent hand washing are far more effective ways to combat the spread of COVID-19, and face coverings are not a substitute for continuing those practices", said Acting County Public Health Officer Dr. Erin Gustafson. “Surgical masks and N95 masks should not be used because they must be preserved for healthcare workers and emergency responders,” Gustafson said. “If you do use a face covering, make sure to practice frequent hand washing before and after touching and adjusting the covering.”

Wash cloth face coverings frequently after each use -- at least daily. Place face coverings in a bag until washing them in detergent with hot water and dried on a hot cycle. Discard cloth face coverings that no longer cover the nose and mouth, have stretched out or damaged ties and straps, cannot stay on the face, and have holes or tears in the fabric.
Accountingprose, a small business bookkeeping and payroll service with offices in Phoenix and Denver, has prepared an excellent summary of the various Federal and private sector programs offering assistance to small businesses. To learn more, please click here, and be sure to click on the various tabs at the top of the page, as there are numerous programs available.

Big Bear Chamber of Commerce and the City of Big Bear Lake are happy to assist our local businesses seeking assistance during the COVID-19 crisis. For assistance, please contact Christine Bennett , Senior Administrative Services Analyst, at (909) 866-5831.
Local grocery stores, restaurants, and pharmacies are all working hard to provide food, drugs, and other essential items for the people of Big Bear Lake and the entire valley during the COVID-19 emergency, and they are happy to serve you!

Von's is open to the general public from 9 am - 9 pm each day, and offers "Golden Hours" for senior citizens, pregnant women, and those with disabilities each Monday - Friday from 7 am to 9 am in order to provide a safer shopping environment. Stater Brothers is open daily from 8 am - 9 pm, with early entry for senior citizens at 7 am each day. Both stores have limits on the purchase of certain items.

CVS is open from 9 am – 9 pm daily. Walgreens is also open from 9 am - 9 pm daily, with a special 8 am opening for senior citizens on Tuesdays. Both stores have limits on the purchase of certain items.

There are many great restaurants in Big Bear Lake, and many local restaurants are offering take-out and delivery options. A full list of these restaurants can be viewed here.
The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health operates a COVID-19 Hotline for residents with questions about COVID-19. Please call (909) 387-3911 for assistance.
Stay Informed!
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The City of Big Bear Lake strives to keep our residents, property owners, investors, businesses, and visitors well-informed about the City's issues and initiatives - including the COVID-19 threat - with an emphasis on information specific to Big Bear Lake and the entire Big Bear Valley.
The easiest way to stay-informed is to sign up for the City's email newsletter and other updates. It's easy to sign up - simply visit the City's website and click on "Text & Email Notifications" in the top center of the homepage. Simply click on the link, enter your name and email address, and you're all set. Signing up will ensure that you receive periodic updates about COVID-19 in Big Bear Lake, the City's new monthly newsletter - Elevation 6752', and other special communications from the City of Big Bear Lake for emergency situations, special events, and more.
In addition to the City's email updates, you can also get the latest information from the City of Big Bear Lake via the following digital platforms:
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Please help us spread the word, and share the City's digital communications platforms with your family, friends, other residents, property owners, frequent visitors, or anyone else who is interested in Big Bear Lake. Thank you!
Frank A. Rush, Jr., City Manager
City of Big Bear Lake
39707 Big Bear Blvd. PO Box 10000, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Phone: (909) 866-5831 | Fax: (909) 866-5491