GARDEN CITY – Bear Lakers have more residents than usual this time of year due to the COVID-19 crisis.
When Governor Gary Herbert gave the directive to “Stay Safe, Stay Home,” most of the residents living in Garden City near Bear Lake took it seriously.
The Governor asked all individuals to stay at home and work from home as much as possible. He asked Utah residents to socialize using phones and video chats and self-quarantine for 14 days.
That is all it took for the summer and second homeowners to take to the Bear Lake area to self-quarantine. It started near Herbert’s directive on March 27. They came to hunker down and isolate themselves near 109 square miles of clear blue water.
Garden City resident Bobbie Corey said she is seeing more people than normal in the Bear Lake area for this time of year.
“A lot of people came up here before General Conference and they are staying,” she said. “It’s hard to say how many because most of them are respectful and staying in their homes practicing sheltering in place.”
Corey said she has been self-quarantined except to shop for food and get gas.
“We have a very active Facebook group and we are always checking up on each other,” Corey said.
A store clerk in Garden City said she’ noticed a lot more traffic in town for this time of year. Some of the traffic is from out of state.
“I’ve seen more Washington and Oregon license plates for this time of year,” she said. “And on the weekends, I’m seeing a lot more 2B Idaho plates” (indicating Bear Lake County).
With no school and businesses shuttered, it could make the great outdoors of Rich County a good place to self-isolate and avoid face to face contact.
Claudia Cottle, executive director of Bear Lake Watch, said she has also seen an increase of people trying to ride out the coronavirus pandemic.
She said she was just in a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce and shop owners are worried about what the current crisis will do to their summer tourism.
“At this point, everyone is supporting the restaurants and they are doing curbside service,” she said. “People are trying to support them, but social distancing could be an issue as the summer crowds come.”
The chamber is concerned about crowded streets and what the message should be. Part of the Bear Lake experience is standing in line for a raspberry shake.
“The normal line for people waiting for shakes wraps around the building,” Cottle said. “If there is a line, using social distancing, how long will it be?”
She said they are trying to come up with something different to keep customers in mind so they can get their shakes. It may be different.
“I don’t think we’ll see boaters right now, it’s too cold,” she said. “I think all the state parks are closed to people outside of the county right now.”
The Chamber of Commerce is also worried about the rental companies this year with all of the restrictions. They hope the crowds will return.
“If people sequester themselves at our rooms, at least they will have a different view from what they have at home,” she said. “They can look at a beautiful blue lake.”
Rental property managers are trying to find the best standards to sanitize their rooms and are doing their due diligence to keep things clean, Cottle said.
“We will get through it,” she said.