Update #60
COVID-19 Emergency
May 18, 2020 - 5 pm
City Working to Determine if Governor's Latest Adjustments Will Help Big Bear Lake

City Still Awaiting Response from Governor Regarding City Plan

Vacation Rentals Now Permitted, Occupancy Limited to Immediate Household Only

Summary of Current Restrictions and Recommendations in Big Bear Lake

Still 9 Cases in Big Bear Valley

No Significant Change in COVID-19 Hospitalizations, Ventilator Use
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!
Earlier today, Governor Newsom announced different criteria for a county to secure a variance from Statewide restrictions. The City is currently waiting for additional information from San Bernardino County to determine if the County will be eligible for a variance under the new criteria, and is also working to determine exactly what this will mean for Big Bear Lake.

County officials are currently reviewing the Governor's new criteria and reviewing data, and expect to have additional information tomorrow. IF the County qualifies for a variance, that would enable the County to implement less stringent restrictions in the entire County, including Big Bear Lake. It is important to note, however, that the Governor maintains stringent controls on the types of businesses that can open under a County variance and the timelines for reopening. IF a variance is granted, it will likely not help all Big Bear Lake businesses, and likely not before Memorial Day weekend.

The City believes that ALL businesses in Big Bear Lake should be allowed to open, provided certain occupancy limits, physical distancing, hygiene, and face covering requirements are met.

The City will provide more information in the COVID-19 update on Tuesday.
Last Wednesday, the City forwarded a letter to Governor Newsom and our Plan for the Safe, Responsible Reopening of Big Bear Lake. As of today, we have not yet received the Governor's response, and we continue to eagerly await a response.

Despite the Governor's announcements earlier today, the City remains under Governor Newsom's Statewide restrictions. It is currently unclear how the Governor's announcements earlier today will affect Big Bear Lake, thus the City continues to seek approval for a City or Valley-wide variance.

The City shares the frustrations of the Big Bear business community, and believes it is time to reopen Big Bear Lake Lake in a measured, safe manner. If the Big Bear Valley was its own county, it is likely that it would qualify for a variance under the Governor's still very rigid criteria. There have been no COVID-19 deaths in the Big Bear Valley, the number of cases in our area remains well below the Governor's criteria, there remains more than adequate capacity in the local and regional health care systems, there is adequate testing available to those who seek it, and contact tracing has been completed for already confirmed cases in the Big Bear Valley. Additionally, the City has committed to fund antibody testing when a reliable test becomes available, and has also committed to fund contact tracing for any future confirmed cases if necessary.

The City's plan, if ultimately approved by Governor Newsom, would allow ALL businesses to open and relies on responsible behavior by businesses, employees, and patrons to keep our community safe. The City's plan includes 50% initial occupancy limits, adherence to various physical distancing, face covering, and hygiene requirements, and the incorporation of "best practices" by Big Bear businesses.
Following San Bernardino County's lead last week, vacation rentals are now permitted to operate in the City of Big Bear Lake.

Vacation rentals may now be occupied, but only by members of the same immediate household. No gatherings or parties are permitted, and all guest groups should maintain 6 ft. separation from others, should wear face coverings when interacting with other groups or individuals, and should practice frequent hand washing and personal hygiene.

ALL vacation rental guests should bring their own food and supplies from their home community. PLEASE don't crowd our grocery stores, and help us preserve essential food and supplies for the residents of the Big Bear Valley. Vacation rental guests are encouraged to order take-out or delivery from local restaurants, who are eager to serve you. Face coverings should be worn when interacting with restaurant staff.

All vacation rental owners and managers should take appropriate steps to ensure that the unit is clean, should ensure that your guests understand the local recommendations and restrictions (below), and should follow "best practices" recommended by the City and our partners. (Please note that the in-person check-in requirement remains in effect at this time, and owners / managers and guests should do so at an appropriate distance and wear face coverings.)

This is an important first step for the City in welcoming back overnight visitors, and it is critical that we get this right. We need the cooperation of all vacation rental owners, managers, and guests to KEEP OUR COMMUNITY SAFE and KEEP OUR COMMUNITY OPEN!
These are the most current recommendations and restrictions applicable in Big Bear Lake:

  • Everyone is encouraged to maintain at least 6 ft. of separation from others (or other groups not from your household) in all interactions.

  • Face coverings should be worn for all interactions with others.

  • Everyone is encouraged to continue to wash your hands frequently, generously apply hand sanitizer, be highly vigilant and aware of the virus, and act responsibly.

  • Our most vulnerable residents should take additional precautions, and thoughtfully reconsider the need to interact with others. These groups include those over age 65, those with other significant health concerns, and those with compromised immune systems.

  • In accordance with the Governor's orders, "essential" retail businesses are permitted to serve customers in indoor shopping areas or designated outdoor shopping areas, including:

  • grocery stores,
  • convenience stores,
  • drug stores,
  • pet stores,
  • medical supply stores,
  • hardware and building materials supply stores,
  • stores selling electronics, technology, and appliances,
  • auto parts stores, and
  • other stores selling "essential" items.

  • The City interprets the Governor's orders to allow ALL other retail businesses in the City of BIg Bear Lake to operate for curbside pickup only.

  • Under the Governor's orders, many service businesses are permitted to operate, including:

  • auto repair,
  • auto sales,
  • construction and repair services,
  • professional offices,
  • real estate,
  • car washes,
  • pet grooming,
  • landscaping services, and
  • childcare services.

  • Restaurants are still limited to take-out or delivery only. No indoor seating is permitted under the Governor's orders. If patrons order take out, they should not congregate just outside the restaurant to eat, but should instead take the meal home or to another location away from others.

  • Vacation rentals are now permitted to operate, but occupancy is limited to members of the same immediate household. No parties or gatherings are permitted.

  • Traditional lodging facilities are still not permitted to operate under Governor Newsom's orders. The City is working hard to secure approval for traditional lodging facilities to operate in Big Bear Lake as soon as possible.

  • Entertainment venues are not permitted to operate under the Governor's order. The movie theater, bowling alley, bars, music venues, and other similar operations remain closed. The lake is open for limited boating activities, and the golf course is expected to open late next week.

  • Church services are limited to drive thru services only. Graveside funeral services and weddings are limited to 10 people.

  • Barber shops, beauty salons, tattoo parlors, and nail salons are not permitted to operate under the Governor's order.

  • Outdoor physical activity, including riding a bike, taking a hike, taking a walk, or enjoying parks is all permitted, but everyone is encouraged to maintain at least 6 ft. separation and is encouraged to wear face coverings when near others. It is permissible for people to walk or bike on the Alpine Pedal Path, visit a City park, fish from the shore of the lake, take a stroll through The Village, walk in your neighborhood, etc. - but please BE RESPONSIBLE!

For further guidance from Governor Newsom, please visit the Governor's Resilience Roadmap. The Governor's website includes specific safety guidelines for each type of business.
According to San Bernardino County, there are still a total of 9 confirmed cases in the Big Bear Valley, including 6 in the City of Big Bear Lake and 3 in unincorporated areas outside the City limits.

The County reports a total of 3,593 confirmed cases in San Bernardino County. A total of 39,079 tests have been administered thus far in the County, with 9.2% testing positive for COVID-19. Sadly, a total of 155 people have now died from COVID-19 in San Bernardino County. Thankfullly, there are still 0 deaths reported for 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.
City officials continue to closely track the County's data regarding hospital bed and ventilator availability in our County, and we view this data as the most important data for managing the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the County, there are a total of 201 patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. The number of patients hospitalized remains very manageable, and is significantly lower than the peak of 451 patients on April 10. The County reports a total of 1,130 "surge capacity" beds (the number of additional beds a hospital could provide if all available space was needed) in the County, and there are approximately 6,000 total hospital beds in the County.

There are a total of 67 patients in intensive care, and 145 intensive care beds are still available. The number of ICU patients also remains very manageable, and is significantly lower than the peak of 124 on April 10. There are a total of 266 ventilators in use in the County, and an additional 576 ventilators still available. It should be noted that of this total, only 44 of the ventilators are being used by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients. The other 222 ventilators are being utilized by patients with other ailments. The availability of ventilators has remained high throughout the duration of the COVID-19 event.

Bear Valley Community Hospital and Big Bear Fire / EMS officials continue to report generally lower patient and call volumes than typical for this time of year, which remains a good sign for our community. Bear Valley Community Hospital is equipped with 30+ hospital beds and 7 ventilators.

The stated goals for Governor Newsom's response to COVID-19 were to a) slow the spread and b) not overwhelm the health care system, and thankfully, both of these goals appear to have been met in San Bernardino County and in the Big Bear Valley. Although COVID-19 remains a significant public health concern, it appears to be manageable by our local health care system.
San Bernardino County recently unveiled its COVID--Compliant Business Partnership Program, which offers business grants to small businesses in the County, including Big Bear Lake.

The COVID-Compliant program has two components:

  • funding of $2,500 for eligible small businesses with 1-100 employees, and

  • support and partnership for ALL eligible County businesses who wish to become a COVID- Compliant Business Partner.

This program will support local small businesses by reimbursing and / or offsetting costs and impacts directly related to complying with COVID-19 business protocols , and providing support to all eligible County businesses who apply for the program. Prior to receiving funding, small businesses must demonstrate compliance with public health orders, and incorporate safety and social distancing practices and measures in their business operations. 

The total funding available County-wide through this program is $30 million . Eligible businesses, per qualifying location, can receive up to $2,500. The deadline for applications is August 31, 2020, and Big Bear businesses are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

To learn more, and submit your application, please visit the COVID-Compliant Business Partnership Program website.
Due to continuing uncertainties regarding the Governor's restrictions, and because sufficient time is necessary to effectively plan successful special events, the City is forced to announce that all special events supported by the City and scheduled for the month of June are postponed or cancelled. For details regarding specific events, please contact event organizers directly.

The City remains hopeful that the Governor's restrictions will be loosened, one way or another, in the coming days and weeks. The City continues to work closely with Visit Big Bear and others to plan the annual July 4th fireworks, and we remain optimistic that the show will go on!
Governor Newsom's orders have been amended to allow outdoor open gallery spaces, and curbside pickup is also permitted by the Governor's orders. Thus, the City interprets these orders to permit garage / yard sales to occur in Big Bear Lake. Residents and property owners planning to conduct a garage / yard sale should contact City Planning staff at 909-866-5831 to register.

Sale organizers and patrons are encouraged to maintain 6 ft. of separation from others at garage / yard sales, should wear face coverings, and should wash hands and/or use hand sanitizer frequently!
The "Great Plates Delivered" program provides adults 65 and older (and adults 60-64 who are at high-risk from COVID-19) with three (3) nutritious meals a day to help keep them safe at home and healthy, and also provides economic assistance to local restaurants .
The Great Plates Delivered program is administered by San Bernardino County . Individuals with questions regarding how the program works and eligibility can find answers here . To enroll in the program, eligible individuals should call (888) 743-1485. Information on the program for Big Bear Lake restaurants interested in participating can be found here . Restaurants interested in participating should submit their interest to mary.bernal@hss.sbcounty.gov
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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