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Ducks glide across glassy waters as mountains dusted in snow are seen South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Thursday, December 10, up here. Though local officials and tourism bureaus are issuing clear guidance to prospective travelers to steer clear of the region, there remains a lot of confusion around what is allowed and what is not for Bay Area travelersmany of whom had booked hotel rooms and Airbnbs before the shutdown period or who are looking forward to skiing at resorts in the Tahoe region, which remain open even during stay-at-home.
Tahoe residents report that people are still traveling to the area, presumably to ski and seek respite in the mountains from a housebound pandemic lifestyle that has persisted for more than 9 months. The greater Lake Tahoe area spans five counties, two of which are in Nevada. The order pertains to the three California counties and will impact residents in those counties and non-residents traveling to that region, which includes Truckee and South Lake Tahoe. Under stay-at-home, outdoor dining is prohibited. Hair salons and barbershops, indoor gyms, museums, zoos, aquariums, personal care services, wineries, bars, breweries, cardrooms, live audience sports, and family entertainment centers will be closed.
Non-essential travel in and out of the Tahoe area is prohibited, except in instances in which travelers book for more than 14 days and self-quarantine during that period, according to the state's travel advisory. The state's guidelines recommend that people in affected areas refrain from driving more than two or three hours from their homes.
Breaking the order may be punishable as a misdemeanor crime and fine or "court-imposed penalties," according to the state's guidelines. Enforcing a ban on visitors to Lake Tahoe during shelter-in-place in March was virtually impossible, authorities say.
Half of Lake Tahoe is in Nevada, which has less restrictive pandemic rules in place. South Lake Tahoe, which is bifurcated by the state line, is especially tricky for travelers to navigate right now. Indoor and outdoor dining and public gatherings is also permitted — with some restrictions. Lodging operators are only allowed to serve essential travelers — people traveling for work, medical needs and critical infrastructure support.
Communities around the lake, including Truckee and South Lake Tahoe, are asking hoteliers and property managers of short-term rentals to cancel all existing reservations through Jan. Hotels and property managers have already begun canceling reservations and calling guests.
December and the Christmas holiday is a highly popular time for tourism in Tahoe and many lodging operators told the Chronicle that the impact to their bottom lines for would be devastating. The impact of the mass cancellations will be felt communitywide because municipalities depend on hotel taxes to fund local budgets.
As of press time, there were dozens of listings in the Tahoe region available on those websites. City and county officials in the Tahoe area say they don't have authority to regulate third-party booking marketplaces or the resources to closely monitor the thousands of short-term rentals across the region.
Airbnb leaves cancellation policies largely up to hosts, who can set loose or restrictive rules. The company waived some cancellation penalties at the onset of the pandemic in March. However, its updated cancellation policy explicitly does not cover trip changes due to COVID-related stay-at-home orders. It does, however, provide refunds to guests who have tested positive for the virus. Several Airbnb guests have told the Chronicle that they were able to negotiate full refunds from sympathetic hosts. Others, however, have only received partial refunds or had to swallow the whole cost of a canceled booking.
It's not clear how the stay-at-home order is being enforced, but several areas around Tahoe have ordinances in place that allow them to fine short-term rental occupants and hosts who violate shutdown orders. Tahoe officials told the Chronicle that they have been receiving calls and complaints about short-term rental guests since the shutdown took effect and will respond accordingly.
If you own a vacation home in Tahoe, you are allowed to travel to your property during the shutdown. However, all travelers are expected to observe the state's travel advisorywhich recommends self-quarantining for 14 days upon arrival. Yes, ski areas are staying open during the shutdown. They have put in many new pandemic protocols, requiring skiers to wear masks and stay distant from one another. Most ski areas require guests to reserve ski days or purchase day passes online in advance in order to keep crowding under control.
For a detailed breakdown of how each Tahoe ski area is operating this year, visit the Chronicle's pandemic ski guide. Newsom has said that getting outdoors to exercise and de-stress — including at ski areas — is permitted and even encouraged under the regional stay-at-home order. However, the state is explicitly discouraging non-essential travel for long distances and more than two or three hours from home.
Cancellations on short notice can possibly allow for vouchers. Northstar, for example, will issue full refunds for cancellations made prior to 48 hours of the lesson start time. Annie Vainshtein is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.
: avainshtein sfchronicle. : gthomas sfchronicle. Twitter: GregRThomas. Most Popular. Vacation travel to Lake Tahoe will be banned for at least three weeks starting Friday due to a regional rise in the of COVID hospitalizations.
When did the stay-at-home order in Tahoe start? Who does it affect? What is shut down in Lake Tahoe? How exactly is the travel order being enforced? So far, that is unclear. What's happening on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe?
How is the order affecting hotels? How does the order affect Airbnb bookings? More for you.
Top of the News. Health experts have considerable uncertainty about how the pandemic will evolve, but at least a worst-case scenario of vaccine resistance and extreme contagiousness seems unlikely. They lost their home to a fire. They moved on. Then came the Dixie Fire. Private flights and short-range jets are skyrocketing during the pandemic. Changes in population and racial makeup of Bay Area neighborhoods.Anybody want to go to tahoe
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