Big Bear isn’t closed, but there’s no room at the inn.
Under Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay at home order, Big Bear has issued direction that all lodging facilities including the private home vacation rentals and AirBnB rentals, cannot operate until the order is lifted amid the coronavirus emergency. The direction applies to the city of Big Bear Lake and the unincorporated areas under the jurisdiction of San Bernardino County.
Newsom issued the stay at home order March 19, and clarifications have been updated regularly. Frank Rush, Big Bear Lake city manager, issued the clarification regarding lodging facilities within the city on
March 22. San Bernardino County followed suit the morning of March 23.
As of March 24 at press time, there are 31 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in San Bernardino County with one confirmed case in Big Bear. Big Bear Lake Mayor Rick Herrick announced March 21 that he had tested positive for COVID-19. He has been in self-isolation since March 13.
Under the regulations prohibiting lodging facilities from operation, all vacation rental firms are to stop taking reservations for the foreseeable future, not process any new arrivals, bookings for the future should be canceled and those currently in lodging facilities should be asked to return to their home community.
According to San Bernardino County, violation of a state or county public health order is a crime, punishable by fines, jail or both.
Michael Perry, the incoming interim CEO for Visit Big Bear, said all vacation rental agencies have stopped taking reservations through April 30. Visit Big Bear posted a message on its COVID-19 Updates page on its
bigbear.com website asking visitors to stay home. Visit Big Bear let potential visitors know they would be welcome to visit Big Bear Valley when the COVID-19 emergency has ended, but urged anyone considering a trip to the mountaintop to postpone their plans until a later time.
The Big Bear Lake City Manager, Rush, said there are calls coming into the code enforcement department at the city that people are arriving at vacation homes. Code enforcement is investigating those calls, but in many cases it is the owner of the property, Rush said. “We would never tell a homeowner they can’t use their own property,” Rush said.
Perry said he is hopeful that Big Bear is ready to welcome visitors back by July 4 and that the summer season will be busy.
The Big Bear Lake City Council and Ellen Clarke, executive director of the Big Bear Lake Chamber of Commerce, are concerned about raising the funds for the fireworks. The first payment is due April 3. See the story on Page 13 for more on the July 4 fireworks show.
Bear Valley Unified School District, along with all schools within San Bernardino County, are closed and will remain closed through at least May 1. Students must continue their education, with parents now responsible for homeschooling.
The stay at home order issued by the governor allows only essential businesses to remain open. Those include, but are not limited to:
• Grocery stores
• Farmer’s markets
• Food banks
• Convenience stores
• Restaurants for takeout and delivery only
• Banks and financial institutions
• Laundromats/laundry services
• Essential state and local government, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services
• Hardware stores
Many businesses in Big Bear have opted to close their physical site and allow staff to work from home when possible. Restaurants, those that are capable, are providing takeout and delivery service to continue to serve the community and keep their own business going. See the list beginning on
Gyms and fitness centers are closed. But locally, several have started posting workouts online, on Facebook groups and on YouTube to make sure members continue their fitness routines. Some have allowed members to take weights home.
Governing boards are still doing business, but all meetings are held by teleconference in some fashion to protect members and the public. Big Bear Lake City Council held a teleconference meeting March 23. The Big Bear Municipal Water District, San Bernardino County’s Board of Supervisors and Big Bear Fire Authority held meetings under the new rules March 24.
Rush said we all need to do what we can so we can begin recovery sooner rather than later. We need to buckle down and get this over, Rush said.
Rush said he was speaking with another local official who called the COVID-19 crisis the invisible disaster. It’s more challenging than any other disaster like a fire or earthquake, Rush said. There’s no where to go or hide, he said. And unlike other disasters, there isn’t someone or some other area or agency that hasn’t been affected that we can call for help. We are all affected by COVID-19, he said.