Update #9 COVID-19 Threats
March 22, 2020 - 1:30 pm
Governor's Order Clarified; Lodging Facilities and Vacation Rentals May Not Operate in Big Bear Lake

Why It's Not So Simple to Just "Close The Mountain"

Mayor Herrick Continues Self-Quarantine
City officials continue to closely monitor developments associated with COVID-19 (coronavirus), and continue efforts to prepare for an escalation of the COVID-19 threat in Big Bear Lake. City officials remain in regular communications with San Bernardino County public health officials and local health care providers, and rely exclusively on their expertise and guidance relative to the public health risks and recommendations applicable to Big Bear Lake.
The City of Big Bear Lake is working hard to ensure that the residents, property 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.
To be sure you are receiving the latest and most accurate information, please sign up for this email newsletter at https://www.citybigbearlake.com/index.php/newsroom/text-email-notifications . PLEASE share this email newsletter with anyone and everyone, as we want to reach as many people as possible with this information. Thank you!
Governor Newsom issued a state-wide "shelter in place" order late on March 19, with several exceptions, and has directed everyone to remain at home in an effort to discourage further community transmission of COVID-19. The City of Big Bear Lake has been diligently implementing these restrictions and those established by County public health officials since the COVID-19 event began, and is implementing additional restrictions as they are announced and/or clarified.

Earlier this morning, the City received additional clarification regarding lodging facilities and vacation rentals. Unless these facilities are housing critical infrastructure workers or specifically designated by the State or County to house confirmed COVID-19 patients (currently not the case in Big Bear Lake and highly unlikely in the future), lodging establishments and vacation rentals may not operate. Current bookings for the next several weeks should be cancelled, no new arrivals should be processed, and no new reservations should be accepted for the short-term until after the COVID-19 event has ended and these restrictions have been lifted.

At this time, most lodging facilities and vacation rentals have already closed, and there are very few visitors here. A windshield survey of lodging facilities by Sheriff's deputies this morning counted approximately 125 vehicles combined in all lodging facilities' parking lots, and it is important to note that some of these vehicles may be employees of the lodging facility or individual unit owners who have a right to utilize their property.

Any current guests in a lodging facility or a vacation rental should be directed to return directly home and continue to "shelter in place" in their home community, or should remain sheltered in place in the unit.

Other guidance remains unchanged from the last update, and is as follows:
  • 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,
  • 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 situations described above,
  • non-essential group gatherings of any size are prohibited, including commercial establishments, churches, community groups, and other formal and informal group activities, and
  • isolated, outdoor exercise is permitted, including walking your dog.
The City continues to adjust its guidance based on the announcement of additional restrictions and clarification of existing restrictions by the Governor and/or County public health officials, and will update its guidance to our residents accordingly in the future.
The COVID-19 event is unlike any other natural or man-made disaster that Big Bear Lake, and every community in the United States, has ever experienced. It's not as simple as comparing this event to a wildfire, an earthquake, or a hurricane, as this event is literally affecting every single community and every single person, no one knows exactly how it will all end, nor when it will end.

The City has received several suggestions that we should just "close the mountain". While that conclusion is a completely understandable and reasonable conclusion for one to reach, it's not quite that simple. First, 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.

Additionally, it's 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. Finally, if our intent is to limit the spread of COVID-19 into Big Bear Lake, we also shouldn't allow our residents to leave and then return, as they could potentially bring the virus back with them. At this time, the City is not aware or any California communities that have restricted people from other communities from entering their community.

The City, in conjunction with Visit Big Bear, has directly discouraged visitors to Big Bear Lake since Thursday, and continues to do so. Visitors should not come to Big Bear Lake during the COVID-19 event, and should abide by "shelter in place" restrictions in place in their home community.

The City's response to the COVID-19 threats has and will continue to consider all aspects of this crisis in our decision-making. As has been the case thus far, the City's continued response will continue to evolve based on changing circumstances, new information, and new or clarified restrictions from State and County officials. Above all, the City's response is guided exclusively by the expertise of public health experts, and will continue to rely on that expertise.
As reported on Saturday, March 21, the first case of COVID-19 in the City of Big Bear Lake is Mayor Rick Herrick. Thankfully, Mayor Herrick is doing reasonably well, and is expected to fully recover. Mayor Herrick has been in self-quarantine since March 13, and remains isolated from others. All of us at the City of Big Bear Lake wish him a full and speedy recovery.

It was expected that Big Bear Lake would ultimately have confirmed cases of COVID-19 due to the rapid spread of the virus across the United States. With the continued improvements in COVID-19 testing, it is expected that the number of confirmed cases will continue to increase all over the United States, including Big Bear Lake. The public should recognize this fact, should not panic, and should continue to be vigilant in adhering to "shelter in place" orders, practicing effective social distancing, and maintaining good personal hygiene.

Together, we will all get through this and Big Bear Lake will bounce back better than ever!
In response to Governor Newsom's "shelter in place" order and the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Big Bear Lake, the City has adjusted its operations to essential services and essential personnel only. City staff will continue to maintain critical infrastructure and perform essential services, however, other services will be temporarily suspended.

The City will continue to provide the following essential services while the COVID-19 threats persist:

  • COVID-19 emergency response,

  • COVID-19 public communications,

  • law enforcement (through SB County Sheriff's Department),

  • fire suppression and emergency medical services (through the Big Bear Fire Department),

  • snow removal,

  • public water supply (through the DWP),

  • wastewater collection,

  • solid waste collection (through Big Bear Disposal),

  • City buildings and facilities maintenance,

  • building inspections, and

  • critical street maintenance.

City Hall remains open for essential services and essential personnel, and essential City staff are available for telephone - (909) 866-5832 - and email inquiries.

The City will resume normal operations after the COVID-19 threat has passed.
The Big Bear Lake community has already experienced severe economic harm as a result of COVID-19, and now has its first confirmed case. At this point, the most important tasks at hand for our community are to prevent further transmission, eliminate the occurrence of COVID-19 in our community, and get back to normal as soon as possible! You can do your part by limiting your interactions with others to the maximum extent practical, practicing effective social distancing, and maintaining good personal hygiene.

Let's get this done, keep our residents safe, and get back to normal!

PLEASE ACT RESPONSIBLY for yourself, your family, your neighbors, and your community!
The City and Visit Big Bear encourage all visitors to postpone your trip to a later date when you can fully enjoy all of the great recreational, dining, and shopping opportunities in and around Big Bear Lake. With the "shelter in place" order in effect in Big Bear Lake, and the fact that lodging facilities and vacation rentals may not operate, it's simply not the time to be visiting Big Bear Lake. Everyone should "shelter in place" in their home community, and abide by appropriate restrictions in their home community.

Big Bear Lake lodging establishments and vacation rental companies understand the significance of this crisis, and are offering flexible rescheduling options, credits, and more to make your future visit to Big Bear Lake as enjoyable as possible. Please contact your lodging provider or vacation rental company to reschedule your visit.

We'll be back stronger than ever after the COVID-19 threat has passed, and we look forward to hosting you as soon as it's safe for you, your family, and our community.
The presence of COVID-19 has raised concerns about the proper disposal of materials that may be exposed to the virus. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends routine procedures for managing solid waste potentially exposed to COVID-19, and the City urges everyone to follow these recommendations. 
Cleaning and disinfecting activities in homes, businesses, and other non-healthcare locations (such as hotels, schools, and other facilities) will generate solid waste, including used facemasks, gloves, disposable wipes, paper towels, disposal clothing, and similar materials potentially exposed to the virus. 
As a general rule, treat personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfection waste, and other materials that may have been exposed to the virus as general solid waste. This material, however, should be sealed in a trash bag, tied shut, and placed with regular trash. These materials will be collected by City's franchisee, Big Bear Disposal, and transferred to transfer stations or directly trucked for disposal. The sealed trash bags will ultimately be disposed of in landfills that are permitted to accept municipal solid waste. Please also note that disposable wipes and paper towels should not be flushed down the toilet, and should be discarded as general solid waste.
Please help us keep our solid waste collection employees safe!
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to California small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19. Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela . Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.
Local employees displaced due to the impact of COVID-19 may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance, and/or paid family leave through the California Employment Development Department. To learn more, please visit https://www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019/faqs.htm .
The Centers for Disease Control website includes a wealth of information at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html .
The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health includes information specific to our county at http://wp.sbcounty.gov/dph/coronavirus/ .
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 https://www.citybigbearlake.com/ 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!
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