Big Bear feeling stress of busy season amid omicron surge

BIG BEAR, Calif. (KABC) -- For those with plans to head up to Big Bear for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, it might be wise to prepare for the mountain community to feel even busier than a typical holiday weekend.

Many businesses have been hit hard by a large number of employees not coming to work, but also, the wide-open spaces and fresh mountain air give visitors concerned about contracting the virus, a feeling of safety.

"This is a good spot because it's not overcrowded or anything," said Lizzete Corangues, who came up to Big Bear for the day with her family from Garden Grove. "Being out in the open right now is a huge plus. Just because of the (coronavirus) situation, and how it is."

Corangues said one of her primary concerns is the fact that her youngest child is still not vaccinated.

"We tend to stay home a lot because of that," said Corangues.

At Snow Summit, skiers and snowboarders are expected to enjoy excellent weather conditions for the holiday weekend, with an abundant amount of snow still left from last week's storms. Big Bear Mountain Resorts spokesman Justin Kanton said the resort has been affected by workers staying home because of COVID-19. And because they're such a large operation, they've been able to make adjustments so guests likely won't notice many issues.

"We've done everything we can to make sure our guests have as best an experience as possible. Whether that means shifting schedules, or maybe re-routing traffic to other areas of the resort. It shouldn't affect the guest experience, it's more on the backside of things," Kanton added.

Smaller businesses with fewer employees will be more severely impacted.

"Our businesses have been challenged during COVID and are challenged by the (current) numbers," said Ellen Clarke, executive director of the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce. "But they are a resilient, strong group and they have pivoted at every turn.

Clarke urges mountain visitors to not only be patient this holiday weekend but to be polite as well.

"It's really important for people to understand we are short on staff on almost every business in town, the hours are going to be different, you should always call the business first."
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