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Contra Costa can reopen more indoor businesses, including restaurants, gyms and movies

By Ann Peterson

Managing editor


(Tuesday, Sept. 29) More indoor businesses are allowed to reopen this week as Contra Costa County moved into the state’s less restrictive red tier.

Among those moving back inside, starting Wednesday, is Creekside Grill — though only at 25%, as required by the state to continue fighting the spread of COVID-19.

The county moved up on Tuesday, Sept. 29, from the purple tier – which represents widespread risk for catching coronavirus – to California’s red tier, signifying substantial risk.

In the red tier, counties are allowed to open indoor gyms at 10% capacity, museums and movie theaters at 25% and indoor dining and places of worship at 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Indoor retail and shopping malls also can increase their capacity from 25% to 50%.

This was especially welcome news as the county is coming off yet another heat wave of triple-digit temperatures and smoky conditions, which make outdoor activities a challenge.

Even when eligible to move to a new tier, counties have the right to leave their tougher restrictions in place. But Contra Costa Health Services Officer Chris Farnitano said Contra Costa will permit all of the reopenings allowed in the red tier.

“The credit really belongs to the residents of Contra Costa, who have adapted to the new normal and modified their lifestyles to reduce the spread of COVID in the county,” Farnitano said.

However, he also told the board of supervisors last week that this doesn’t mean the county will lower its guard. “The most important thing is to be prepared to pull back if we see the numbers going the wrong way,” he said.

In order to move to the red tier, the county had to keep its daily average number of new COVID-19 cases between 4 and 7 per 100,000 residents and maintain a positive test rate between 5 and 8% for two consecutive weeks. Contra Costa registered 6.7 new cases per day and a 3.7% test positivity rate.

The change in tier means the Creekside Grill will partially reopen for indoor service on Wednesday. Owner Stan Gedeon said the restaurant has already set up for 25% inside dining and plans to add tables in the foyer.

The grill also will continue outdoor dining with tents and heaters on all patios so they are ready for the cooler temperatures. The grill remains open daily on Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Director of Resident Services Jeff Matheson said staff needed to wait until they see the new county public health order to determine what else can reopen and how they would need to operate. This includes the Fitness Center and Peacock Hall’s movie theater.

Because of limited seating, staff is reviewing options for a ticket system for movies at Peacock Hall, Matheson said.

As for the Fitness Center, “at 10%, the number would be pretty small, but we would likely open with a reservation system,” Matheson said. “We would likely still run group fitness as livestream and utilize some outdoor space for training.”

Residents can find information and links for the livestream fitness classes at

Meantime, nail salons received the go-ahead from the state last Tuesday to resume indoor business, regardless of their county’s tier.

If Contra Costa’s numbers continue to improve, Farnitano said, schools also could begin reopening as soon as Oct. 13 without needing a waiver.

The next tier – orange for moderate risk – will require new daily cases between 1 and 3.9 per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate between 2 and 4.9%.