Big Bear, Joshua Tree, Ventura County resume business during Memorial Day

Over Memorial Day weekend, San Diego, Kern, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties are starting up their economies again. Cities that heavily rely on tourism are doing the same. 

Starting today, Big Bear Lake is allowing restaurants and stores to resume business, though the state’s stay-at-home orders are still in effect. 

“We are no longer communicating or enforcing the governor's restrictions,” says Frank Rush, City Manager at Big Bear Lake. 

He says the community has been struggling after 10 weeks of business closures: “The pain and the harm is very, very real. I mean, we have businesses that are hanging on by a thread. We have businesses that won't survive this. Unfortunately, we have people whose lives are ruined.”

He notes that Big Bear isn’t defying state orders, and that this move is to help fix the economic and social harm created by COVID-19. 

“We have basically trusted our businesses, our residents, our visitors to do the right thing. We've asked them to make decisions based on their personal circumstances to be responsible,” Rush says. “We certainly want people to maintain physical distance. We want to wear face coverings. We want to practice good hygiene.” 

He says the region has been fortunate so far, with nine confirmed cases and zero deaths. 

Joshua Tree National Park is now open. Will it get overcrowded during Memorial Day weekend as hikers take to the trails, including this Lost Palms Oasis Trail? Photo by Amy Ta/KCRW

Joshua Tree National Park, some state parks and beaches are now open too. How will park officials make sure these places aren’t overcrowded?

Gloria Sandoval, a spokeswoman with California State Parks, says new visitor guidelines are in place, which includes limiting parking lot capacity. She says this will encourage Californians to only attend parks within walking or biking distance, which would keep local communities safer.

All campgrounds remain closed, and only certain restrooms are open. If there are too many people at the park, she asks visitors to come back at a different time. 

Sandoval recommends that people plan trips ahead of time and visit individual park websites for specific information.

She also notes that park rangers have the authority to issue citations if public safety guidelines are not followed.

—Written by Danielle Chiriguayo and Amy Ta, produced by Caleigh Wells