LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KRON) – Lake Tahoe’s stay at home order is in effect for the next three weeks.

Hotels are closed to visitors, a huge economic loss right before the winter holidays.

ICU bed capacity in the Sacramento region fell below the state’s 15 percent threshold, leaving health officials no choice but to issue the new order but the Nevada side of the lake is open.

Ski resorts are open during this stay at home order. Day trips are allowed but Tahoe officials are urging visitors to follow health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and overwhelming their limited healthcare system. 

“We want folks to be safe out there. Tahoe has been around a long time and we plan to still be around for a long time when this is all over and just be smart, be safe, be kind and enjoy your holiday season and let’s make the best of it as much as we can,” Andy Chapman said. 

Andy Chapman, CEO of the Incline Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau which covers North Tahoe, says he’s seen an influx of rebookings on the Nevada side.

As the California side of Lake Tahoe enters a three-week stay at home order, the Nevada side of the lake is open with restrictions: restaurants, bars, casinos, and hotels are limited to 25 percent capacity.

“We’re mindful of the situation and we’re aware of it and we certainly want to make sure we’re protecting our small healthcare community up here as well,” Chapman said. 

Besides COVID, officials are worried about injuries on the slopes. The Lake Tahoe area has two hospitals, with fewer ICU beds.

Ski resorts are permitted to stay open, outdoor recreation is exempt from California’s COVID order but leisure travelers are banned from overnight stays in hotels and lodgings.

“The timing couldn’t be worse. It really couldn’t,” Amanda Adams said. 

Amanda Adams, President of South Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, says businesses in South Lake Tahoe were hoping to make up for lost time during the pandemic this holiday season.

“Employees in town make minimum wage or very close to minimum wage. You know ski resorts, hotel staff, that kind of thing,” Adams said. 

Hotels reached out to countless customers to cancel upcoming reservations.

According to Adams, those with existing reservations before the order went into effect may stay through the end of their booking.

Those who own vacation homes in the area are allowed to travel to their properties.

Day trips are allowed but visitors are urged to take personal responsibility to keep the community safe while supporting local businesses.

“You’re going to have to do takeout at the restaurants. They’re all set up for it, that’s great but please tip even for takeout, that’s a huge one and secondly, while you’re here, go in a retail store, go online on their business website and buy a gift card,” Adams said. 

If you plan to go up to Tahoe, follow health guidelines to keep residents safe.

The area doesn’t have a lot of room in the hospitals. 

You have to plan ahead – Ski resorts are requiring online reservations to maintain social distancing. Also, a Sierra storm on Saturday afternoon could dump a foot of snow on ridges above Tahoe.

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory effective now through Saturday morning at 10 a.m. 

Up to 8 inches of snow is possible on the mountain passes, so bring your chains.

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