Governor Gavin Newsom hinted at implementing a dimmer switch on certain sectors as the positive cases of COVID-19 began rising. His announcement July 1 did more than dim Big Bear Lake’s July 4 fireworks show. The show won’t go on as planned on the holiday, but will be rescheduled to a later date in the summer or fall.
Big Bear Lake City Manager Frank Rush issued a COVID-19 update following the governor’s press conference July 1 announcing the postponement of the fireworks show. No new date has been set.
Canceling the July 4 fireworks for now was under consideration as COVID-19 cases began to rise in San Bernardino County and even Big Bear, which now has 14 confirmed cases. But the governor’s announcement July 1 wasn’t limited to fireworks shows. Effective immediately, all indoor operations at restaurants must be closed. Restaurants can continue to serve guests on outdoor patios or offer take-out, but cannot continue indoor operations. The closures will be in effect for three weeks, but could be extended depending on epidemiology indicators.
Restaurants do not have to shut down operations if they can effectively move dining operations and seating outdoors to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, Newsom said.
“The fireworks were not unexpected,” said Michael Perry, CEO of Visit Big Bear. The closure of indoor dining caught us by surprise, Perry said. He and Rush were viewing the governor’s press conference together in anticipation of new restrictions and how they might affect Big Bear’s fireworks show. Visit Big Bear and the city share the cost of the fireworks show.
Perry said there is concern about the restaurants shutting down indoor seating. Not all have any or adequate outdoor seating capacity to withstand a holiday weekend. “We lose our capacity to feed people,” Perry said.
Anyone planning to visit Big Bear this weekend or anytime in the next three weeks is urged to bring food with them if they are renting a house or cabin, Perry said. Day-trippers are encouraged to bring ice chests with food and drinks. Restaurant dining could be limited, Perry said.
Newsom’s order is in effect for 19 counties that have been on a watch list for three consecutive days. The list includes San Bernardino County, which Big Bear is part of. The positivity rate for COVID-19 is going up and causing growing concern, Newsom said. The consequence is focusing on certain sectors where the spread is not being controlled.
In addition to restaurants, all indoor operations for wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums, and cardrooms are required to close. The closures will remain in place for three weeks.
Big Bear Alpine Zoo will remain open but the education center and gift shop will be closed. Admission stations will be moved outside to the gate.
The Big Bear Historical Society Museum had already made the decision not to open this summer due to COVID-19.
Big Bear Bowling Barn is closed again, and the Village Theater will not open as planned on July 17.
Two weeks ago, the city of Big Bear Lake chose not to consider closing the Village L to motorized traffic, which would have allowed pedestrian traffic to utilize the streets and maintain social distancing. Several weeks prior, an ad hoc committee suggested the closure of the Village L to allow for restaurants and other businesses to expand outdoor operations in the COVID-19 era. That suggestion was also dismissed. It’s unknown if the City Council will revisit the idea due to the governor’s order.
This is a change of conditions that wasn’t expected, Perry said. He recommends the city manager and City Council do whatever possible to create more outdoor dining opportunities at least for the next three weeks or longer. Perry said the city needs to support the restaurants so they can continue to operate.
All bars in the 19 counties are also required to close immediately. San Bernardino County’s Board of Supervisors agreed on June 30 to close bars on Friday if the COVID-19 numbers didn’t show a slow down. The decision is now out of the supervisors’ hands. The closure of bars includes bars in Big Bear.
Prior to the cancelation of the fireworks show, lodging facilities in Big Bear were booked solid for the holiday weekend, Perry said. He expects cancelations will occur by those who were visiting Big Bear because of the fireworks show.