With state order in place, El Dorado County lifts local travel ban

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — El Dorado County lifted its nonessential travel ban Wednesday night, but officials stress the state’s order is still in place and visitors should still not travel into the Lake Tahoe Basin.

“Because the state ban on nonessential travel supersedes the county’s, there is no material change in what people should do in regards to visiting Lake Tahoe,” said Public Health Officer, Dr. Nancy Williams. “I cannot emphasize this enough: people should not come to Lake Tahoe unless they have an essential purpose for doing so.”

County officials cite sufficient testing and contact tracing capacity along with the ability to monitor COVID-19 indicators by a team of public health and hospital officials, said a press release.

“The governor’s ‘Stay At Home’ order is still in place and clearly requires that residents refrain from travel for nonessential purposes,” Williams said. “I regret having to discourage visitors, but traveling outside of one’s home community is still proving to be a major factor in the spread of COVID-19. A visit to one of our county’s and state’s most popular destinations for the purpose of a vacation, hiking, boating, enjoying a meal at your favorite Tahoe restaurant, or change of scenery is still prohibited, whether or not there is a county-specific restriction in place.”

The local order was issued on April 3 primarily due to concern about insufficient critical healthcare infrastructure and resources if a surge of COVID-19 cases were to occur.

The basin is served by only one general acute care hospital, Barton Memorial Hospital, which historically has relied on other facilities for any necessary backup. Due to the pandemic, such backup could not be assured, said the release.

The local order was extended on April 29 and was to be reviewed every two weeks 

“El Dorado County residents have taken actions that continue to show a low number of confirmed cases,” Williams said. “Barton has done an excellent job preparing for a surge should it occur, the state’s order on nonessential travel remains in place, and continual consultation with Barton and other leaders from Lake Tahoe indicating support for rescinding the local order have led me to this decision.”

The local order rescission also eliminates the urgency ordinance that the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved on April 17 allowing for a $1,000 administrative fine tied to violating the order, with the exception of travel by homeowners to their second home.

“Now more than ever, as the state begins to provide guidelines for additional industries and businesses to open, it’s critical that people take personal responsibility for their health,” Williams said. “The best advice remains current: stay home when ill for any reason, keep a minimum of six feet between you and others outside your household, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and frequently sanitize commonly-touched surfaces.”

More Like This, Tap A Topic

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.