SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) — Just weeks ago over Memorial Day weekend, the City of South Lake Tahoe was telling people to stay away. Now they're ready to welcome visitors back once again, hoping to recover after months of closure.
"It felt good to get out again and try to capture some sort of normalcy," Mikki Ruiz said, who was visiting from Auburn.
She and Daniel Ruiz are enjoying their first major outing since the pandemic began. This time, though, felt different.
"It's not the same place," Daniel said. "The energy is lower."
South Lake Tahoe is only days into welcoming visitors back again after the state loosened travel restrictions last Friday. Businesses like the South Lake Tahoe Brewing Company are ready for the season.
"Summer is a huge season for Lake Tahoe in general," Nicole Smith, owner of the company said.
After months of closure, Tamara Wallace, the Mayor Pro Tem with the city, says tourism makes up 75% of their economy, if not more. A lack of tax revenue recently left the city to make budget cuts.
"It's been terrible for us," Wallace said. "We're just going to be tightening our belts and move forward."
People like Bobby Caron, a manager at Azul Latin Kitchen, are eager to welcome visitors back to the great outdoors.
"It's just nice to be back to work, to feel like we're generating our economy again and getting ready for a busy summer," Caron said.
Many people hoping it's only boats they'll see rocking from this point on, not the economy.
South Lake Tahoe originally had a $1,000 fine in place if people visited from out of the area. That has been lifted, and the city says businesses should be doing their part to keep visitors safe with physical distancing and sanitation standards.
South Lake Tahoe and businesses also ask people to visit responsibly and encourage wearing masks if you're comfortable.
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