‘We depend on tourism’: El Dorado County lifts nonessential travel ban

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EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — El Dorado County has lifted its ban on nonessential travel to the Lake Tahoe Basin. 

But while tourists no longer face a $1,000 fine for going to the area, nonessential travel still goes against statewide orders. 

“It’s just been like a ghost town up here,” said Heidi’s Pancake House owner John Higgins. “We depend on tourism.”

With the ban on nonessential travel in place since early April, businesses like Heidi’s Pancake House have been suffering. 

That’s why Higgins breathed a sigh of relief when El Dorado County announced Wednesday night that it was lifting the order. 

“I think it’s fantastic,” Higgins told FOX40. “It’s something that we need.” 

Although the ban has been lifted, the area isn’t really open for business. 

“While we have rescinded the local order, the state travel ban still exists and this really doesn’t have any material change and impact on people,” said Carla Hass, El Dorado County director of communications.

The county health officer lifted the local order after addressing the needs of the only hospital in the area. 

“They have produced a surge plan that would allow them to adequately take care of people who become sick with COVID-19,” said Hass. 

Also noting that they have “sufficient testing and contact tracing capacity.” 

As for Higgins, he sees the loosening of local rules as a first step to his restaurant getting back to some sense of normalcy. Especially with casinos set to open on the Nevada side of the lake next week. 

“We’re going to have people coming up here and we’re going to welcome them,” said Higgins. “We’re going to do everything we can to make them happy.”

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