July 21, 2020 Moonshine Minutes

Closing roads, dealing with restrictions



There’s no wall barring entry from county to county in California, but there certainly are significant differences in what can and can’t be done between Lake Tahoe’s surrounding counties.

As the coronavirus continues its carnage, local businesses are pushing beyond their brick and mortar boundaries — taking to the streets, literally. Outdoor services have expanded into public space. Even road closures aren’t off the table as establishments find ways to stay afloat.

Hey everyone, I’m Alex Hoeft, here with today’s Moonshine Minutes.


California has been teasing a reemergence into coronavirus-inspired sector shutdowns — first, a return to the stay-at-home order came in Imperial County on June 26, followed by the closure of bars in six counties two days later, and so on, until Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on July 13 the statewide discontinuation of indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, zoos, museums, and cardrooms. Bars, he furthered, must stop all operations.

The mandate came in response to a significant rise in the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state. As of July 19, there were 9,329 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID in California.

With such marching orders in place, Truckee restaurants, many of which were already providing outdoor dining services, are spilling onto the sidewalks and into parking spaces.

And there’s no limit on the use of parking spots, says Denyelle Nishimori, community development director for the Town of Truckee. If it’s public property, it’s fair game.

She wrote in an email to Moonshine Ink: “On private property, they need owner approval, and if there are other businesses, there needs to be coordination among the businesses. We are asking for businesses to consult with the town first, but we are not requiring any formal plans to be submitted. We are doing it hands-on in the field as a way to expedite.”

The town is fine-tuning minimum standards for seating arrangement barriers adjacent to roadways, but Nishimori did say the businesses will need to provide the barriers. There will be more barrier clarity provided later this week.

And while current expansion hasn’t pushed far enough out to require road closures, town staff is open to it.

Nishimori said: “Donner Pass Road through downtown would be the first primary street we are looking at. Most likely going to a one-way eastbound with a one-way westbound on Jibboom. We are not there yet, as businesses are still getting set-up outside and working through their logistics, but if a road closure makes sense at some point, we will move in the direction.”

Gov. Newsom didn’t stop with the blanket limitations on restaurants, movie theaters, and bars. In his July 13 update, he said counties on the monitoring list must close indoor operations of fitness centers, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services, and indoor malls.

Placer County joined the statewide monitoring list on July 9. Currently, the county has crossed statewide thresholds with a 5% positive test rate and 109.1 cases per 100,000 county residents.

As of publication, other Tahoe counties were approaching the threshold as well, though neither Nevada nor El Dorado counties have yet crossed it. The state of Nevada, meanwhile, has closed bars in Clark, Elko, Humboldt, Lander, Lyon, Nye, and Washoe counties.

Tom Turner is the managing partner for a number of businesses scattered around the lake: Gar Woods Grill & Pier in Carnelian Bay; Caliente in Kings Beach; Riva Grill in South Lake; Bar of America in Truckee; and the up-and-coming Sparks Water Bar in the Truckee Meadows. That’s five establishments across the four counties and two states surrounding Lake Tahoe.

Though his California dining establishments are complying with the mandate, Turner described the re-implementation as “maddening.”

“They can pinpoint where all the viruses are occurring or cases are occurring by zip code, yet they blanket the whole state because that’s easier instead of saying these zips need to shut down.”

Tahoe Fit in Tahoe City is in a unique position: Though allowed to reopen on June 12, Katie Peterson, owner, chose a different path for her Placer County fitness center.

“From the feedback, people, I thought, would be itching to get back in the gym. But I never actually reopened. I have just been doing virtual class through Zoom … When Newsom called to close things again, I was happy that I didn’t reopen; I didn’t go through all that, reopen and then be told to be closed again.”

Though Peterson says her client base has remained loyal, she is worried about when the first snowfall hits. She’s still paying rent for a studio that only she is using to record her virtual classes.

“Am I just going to be a summer, outdoor workout person and do some virtual stuff?” she asked. “… I’m doing whatever I can to keep Tahoe Fit alive.”

The full story, Outdoor Dining Expansions Could Close Part of Donner Pass Road, is on our website, which you should definitely visit, at moonshineink.com. 

Be sure to keep supporting your local businesses and keep wearing your masks. And as always, keep Tahoe smart.


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