By Gabby Dodd
In 2019, U.S. News and World Report ranked Lake Tahoe number three of their “Best Small Towns to Visit USA.” While Tahoe is always a popular destination, the Fourth of July especially brings in the crowds.
However, this holiday weekend will look a little different given the COVID-19 situation. Cases both in California and Nevada are climbing since the re-openings. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been over 5,100 cases of COVID-19 in the last seven days in Nevada and over 49,000 in California.
The Incline Village Crystal Bay Firework Coalition made the decision to cancel this year’s firework display back in April.
According to a statement from the coalition, the decision to cancel was made in an effort to “reduce crowd concerns and prohibit the possible spread of COVID-19.”
IVGID limits access
The Incline Village General Improvement District is also be limiting beach access this holiday weekend. Only current picture pass and punch pass holders will be allowed onto IVGID beaches.
On June 25, the Board of Trustees at IVGID approved Emergency Resolution 1881 which, according to a release, puts limitations on access, restrictions on group picnic use, and an enhanced communication process to inform the public regarding ongoing restrictions.
“We really are asking people to wear masks when they can’t social distance, like if they’re in line at the bathroom or getting a drink at the tiki bar,” IVGID Interim General Manager Indra Winquest said.
The IVGID beaches are separating entry and exit points as a means for distancing groups and will have six security officers as well as management staff on the Fourth of July monitoring the beaches, according to Winquest.
Gates open at 7 a.m., and IVGID is encouraging guests to get their wristbands and passes scanned at Aspen Grove before they enter the beach to expedite lines and limit crowding.
“We are doing the best we can to provide a safe environment, but we really need people to be smart and do the right thing,” Winquest said.
Officials urge responsible celebration
On July 1, Washoe County held a virtual media briefing regarding COVID-19. Epidemiology Program Manager Heather Kerwin stated in the briefing that increased cases are being seen as a result of people spending time with groups outside of their normal households.
“We strongly suggest that everyone be responsible this weekend with Fourth of July celebrations, whether in Incline Village or anywhere in Washoe County,” Scott Oxarart, Washoe County’s communications manager said in an email. “Unfortunately, a lot of celebratory events were cancelled this year in Lake Tahoe, but that is a good thing from a public health standpoint.”
Additional efforts to help limit social gatherings and slow the spread will take place in state parks over the weekend. Access to Sand Harbor via the east shore bike path is still not open and the park will close once it has reached capacity.
California State Parks will be asking visitors to leave if there are too many people to allow for the required physical distance. Current camping reservations will still be honored, according to the park’s website.
The non-profit organization Keep Tahoe Blue will be holding its annual volunteer beach cleanup day on July 5. Advance registration is required to participate in the organized cleanup. Register at keeptahoeblue.org.