‘Why are they not at home’: Lake Tahoe is struggling to keep winter holidaymakers at bay


Rhonda Keen knows why so many people are drawn to Lake Tahoe. There’s the lake itself – miles of beaches along the cobalt blue waters – in the Sierra Nevada, skiing and snowboarding, and the beauty of the tiny mountain towns. December is normally one of the busiest months for visitors, but the recent closure order from California was expected to bring an end to all that this winter.

Visitors were requested by local officials to comply with the lockdown measures and to stay home and stop unnecessary travel – but the visitors kept coming to the surprise of Keen and other residents. They booked rentals for holidays, flocked to nearby grocery stores and hit the slopes. Who are these people? Why aren’t they home?”Who are these people? Why aren’t they home?” Hundreds of new incidents are registered weekly in El Dorado County, where part of Lake Tahoe is located, but inadequate enforcement and the specific location of Tahoe have complicated attempts to keep tourists at bay. In both California and Nevada, the lake is located, but the location in Nevada is accessible to visitors and subject to far less restrictions. Vacation homes and Airbnbs continue to host visitors in the region, while California’s ski resorts excluded from closure by order still continue to operate. The reality has left the tourism-dependent region trapped between “Covid and a tough place,” said Scott Robbins, a former candidate for the City Council and long-distance worker.

Businesses fail and need every tourist influx that they can get to keep afloat. But many are still asking how an epidemic that could overwhelm local hospitals would defend themselves and avoid them. The home ban is set to expire soon, and people are at a loss about how to protect the city. How California went from a pioneer in the battle against Covid to a state in desperation. Keen said, “It almost doesn’t matter what we do,” We have so many visitors coming in from outside the area… we need those tourists so that we can all have jobs and pay the rent, but the danger comes with tourists.

In the Golden State, Lake Tahoe has long been a popular destination whose economy is primarily focused on tourism. The region was a ghost town during the first lockdown in the spring, when ski resorts were closed and Nevada was under similar restrictions, said Chris Fiore, communications manager of South Lake Tahoe.

“But vacation-hungry visitors flooded the area in the summer after the month-long closure, generating traffic, trash problems and crowds that some residents described as similar to Fourth of July all season long. “The summer season on the beaches was like Spring Break. Chelsea Altman, who moved to the area with her family in March, said we went to the beach once and had to hide in the woods with masks. “People don’t care.” Altman had to leave her home in Los Angeles and have completely avoided public spaces after arriving in Tahoe because she has an immune system disorder that makes her more vulnerable to infections. While this month has not been as busy since arriving in Tahoe.

The complaints are registered by South Lake Tahoe, Fiore said, but it doesn’t have the resources to knock on every door in town. “We’ve seen people who most likely don’t live here come into town.” When people come in, we can’t put up a gate over Echo Summit and search IDs,” Fiore said. “The Office of the El Dorado County Sheriff has said it will concentrate on education rather than enforcement of the no trespassing law. Heavenly Village, a shopping and entertainment center, invited tourists during the holidays to come to the area and said, “For residents like Keen, a real estate agent whose husband is a first responder and recently had Covid-19, this is frustrating.”

He is a huge part of my personal business, but I don’t want to get sick at the same time.

One of the first recorded cases of Covid-19 in the area, Robbins, the former candidate for city council, still suffers from long-term symptoms. He says he’s still disappointed by the lack of compliance and substantive


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