In South Lake Tahoe it is a tale of two sides of the state line. The California side is still closed for non-essential travel and feeling the pain. At the same time, the Nevada side is living large with casinos now up and running.
On the California side, hotels like the Tahoe Lakeshore Lodge and Spa are frustrated with the restrictions that only one part of the tourist area has to follow.
“There is a huge pent up demand for travel right now. We get 40 to 50 phone calls a day,” said owner, Patrick Ronan.
Tahoe Lakeshore Lodge is set right on a private beach with a view of the lake. If it weren’t for COVID-19 restrictions, he would normally be booked out this time of year. Instead, the property is left with empty rooms.
Just a mile away, as casinos reopen Thursday in Nevada, it is a different story.
“It’s just difficult to think that the two governors did not somehow figure out how to deal with border towns. This is the perfect example of we are split right down the middle and not happy and there is probably going to be a lot of cheating because of that and that is not fair to the properties who are staying open like ours.”
The statewide non-essential travel ban is still in place. Despite that, Californians are already crossing state lines to place their bets. California resident Liz Schleth believes the entire area should reopen at once.
“As far as the hotels go it’s not fair. They need to be reopened at this point, if you have a casino open where they are taking every precaution that they can. All the bartenders and everybody are wearing masks, they have sanitizers everywhere and all of a sudden you are telling me we can’t go into our hotels,” she said.
El Dorado County has seen 18 new coronavirus cases in the last week, 15 of those are from the Tahoe area. Despite the increase in numbers, in total, the county has reported 102 cases. In a planned letter to Governor Newsom the county, the board of supervisors, and both Placerville and South Lake Tahoe are urging him to lift the current travel ban.
“We want to open up our county as quickly and as safely as possible but the safety has to come first and before that, we have to get the guidelines issued by the state,” said Carla Hass, El Dorado County Director of Communications “The fact that we are a border county to another state that is opening and doing things faster than the state of California it can be very confusing,” she explained.
Lakeshore Lodge has already lost around $500,000 in revenue and fear businesses won’t survive much longer.
“This is a tourist economy if we don’t have tourists we are done,” Ronan said.
Ronan hopes the governor eases restrictions soon and is planning to reopen on June 12th. Rooms are already 70% booked for that weekend.