Update #62
COVID-19 Emergency
May 20, 2020 - 6 pm
Special City Council Meeting Set for Thursday to Discuss Governor's Restrictions

San Bernardino County Expected To Submit Variance Request Next Week

Still No Response from Governor Regarding City Plan

Again, No New Cases in Big Bear Valley

No Significant Change in Hospitalizations, Ventilator Use in San Bernardino County

Summary of Current Restrictions and Recommendations in Big Bear Lake
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!
The City continues to be subject to Governor Newsom's Statewide restrictions. Despite the City's best efforts over the past 4 weeks, it is likely that the City will continue to be subject to these restrictions for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, Governor Newsom has not yet responded to the City's request to implement the City's Plan for the Safe, Responsible Reopening of Big Bear Lake, and it also does not appear that San Bernardino County will be able to secure a variance from Statewide restrictions for at least another 1 - 2 weeks, and perhaps longer.

The City Council is deeply concerned about the impact of the Governor's restrictions on the City's businesses and residents, and has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, May 21 at 4 pm to consider potential strategies to mitigate the impact of the Governor's restrictions on Big Bear Lake. A copy of the special meeting agenda, including a staff report outlining one potential strategy, is available on the City's website. The meeting will be conducted via ZOOM, and attendance is limited to 300 individuals. Instructions for public comment are included on the agenda.

The City Council's action(s) will be included in the City's COVID-19 update on Thursday.
San Bernardino County officials continue to review the Governor's new variance criteria and County data, and expect to submit a formal variance request to Governor Newsom sometime next week. If ultimately approved by the Governor, the variance would enable the County to loosen more restrictions.

At this time, it appears that the County will not receive the variance for at least 1 -2 weeks, and perhaps longer. If the County is ultimately able to secure a variance, this may provide helpful relief for some Big Bear Lake businesses in the future. It is important to note, however, that counties operating under a variance are still subject to the Governor's determinations on which businesses may operate and when, and not all Big Bear Lake businesses would be allowed to open if / when the County secures a variance.
The City has still not received a response from the Governor regarding the City's Plan for the Safe, Responsible Reopening of Big Bear Lake, outlined in Mayor Herrick's letter to Governor Newsom last Wednesday.

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. Many Big Bear businesses and residents are suffering tremendous financial harm, threatening the survival of many small businesses and the vitality of our community. While COVID-19 remains a health and safety threat, it appears to be manageable. At the outset of the COVID-19 emergency, the balance was appropriately shifted to the extreme position of shutting down the entire community, and that approach appears to have succeeded. Now, nearly 10 weeks later, it is necessary to shift this balance back toward the middle -- not back to pre-COVID practices just yet, but away from the extreme approach of the past 10 weeks.

It is again important to note that there have been no COVID-19 deaths in the Big Bear Valley, there have only been 9 total cases in our area and many have recovered, there have only been 3 new cases in the Big Bear Valley in the last month, 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 Big Bear Lake City Council is on record in support of reopening City businesses in a measured, safe manner. The City Council unanimously approved the City's Plan on May 11 after a 2-week review and improvement by community leaders.

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.
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 3,795 confirmed cases in San Bernardino County. A total of 43,461 tests have been administered thus far in the County, with 8.7% testing positive for COVID-19. Sadly, a total of 158 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 210 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 184 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 272 ventilators in use in the County, and an additional 570 ventilators still available. It should be noted that of this total, only 46 of the ventilators are being used by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients. The other 226 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 experience 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.
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.

  • Under a determination by San Bernardino County, vacation rentals are now permitted to operate, but occupancy is limited to members of the same immediate household. No parties or gatherings are permitted. Vacation rental guests are encouraged to bring groceries and supplies from their home community, and/or order take-out or delivery from local restaurants.

  • 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.
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 has announced 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 were recently amended to allow garage / yard sales. Thus, garage / yard sales are permitted 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