By Craig Lazzeretti and Cathy Tallyn
Plans were moving speedily ahead to reopen the Tice Creek Fitness Center in early July and start indoor dining at the Creekside Grill on July 1 before a spike in COVID-19 cases countywide prompted local health officials this week to put the brakes on the further easing of shutdown orders.
Because of recent coronavirus trends, Contra Costa Health Services announced June 29 that it was delaying the reopening of businesses and activities that had been set to start July 1. The seven-day average number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals in the county increased by 75% from June 25 to June 29. Meanwhile, the seven-day average number of newly identified COVID-19 cases has risen from 38 a day to 87, and the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive has increased from 4% to 6%.
The jump in county coronavirus infections mirrors what is happening statewide and throughout the county. On Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom recommended that Contra Costa County, along with several other counties in the state, not reopen bars. The county had planned to allow the reopening starting today of gyms and fitness centers, bars, personal services not involving close contact with the face, indoor dining, limited indoor leisure activities and museums, and hotels for tourism and individual travel.
In its Monday news release, county Health Services said the openings would be delayed “until the COVID-19 outbreak in Contra Costa is better contained.”
It went on to say, “These businesses and activities will remain closed in Contra Costa until county data indicate that the spread of the virus has slowed, as measured by at least a week of stable case numbers, hospitalizations and percent of tests that are positive. Trends will be monitored and evaluated daily.”
Creekside Grill, which is offering outdoor dining, takeout and delivery, had planned to reopen for indoor dining on Wednesday. When the Grill does get the greenlight to move back inside, the restaurant will be ready – with some restrictions.
There must be 6 feet between tables, staff must undergo temperature checks, wait staff must wear face masks, kitchen staff must wear masks and gloves, and hands must be washed and tables disinfected regularly. Salt, pepper and condiments are in single-serve packages.
“My No. 1 goal is to keep everybody healthy,” said owner Stan Gedeon. “I want to keep people as safe as possible.”
Creekside Grill’s dining room has been reconfigured to comply with health orders. There are now 12 tables of four in the dining room. “There used to be 24 tables in here,” he said.
The bar, however, will remain closed because it would be too hard to maintain the 6 feet of social distance required, he said.
Creekside Grill is open daily. Tuesday through Sunday, lunch and dinner are served from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. On Monday, when the golf courses are usually closed, the restaurant opens for happy hour at 2:30 p.m. and closes at 8:30 p.m. Outdoor dining will continue. Pickup and delivery are still available.
Over at the Fitness Center, Rossmoor had tentatively planned for a July 6 reopening, but in light of the county’s Monday announcement, “we will not be opening the Fitness Center until further notice,” said Jeff Matheson, director of Resident Services.
The Fitness Center had planned to reopen with a reservation system, allowing residents to reserve up to three sessions per week. In anticipation of opening, Matheson and Mark Metcalf, senior general manager of the Fitness Center, have put in place several measures and preparations to limit the potential for COVID-19 spread.
The initial general use capacity for the facility is planned at 20 residents per session, Matheson said. Each session will last 75 minutes, with 15 minutes scheduled between sessions for cleaning the facility
Initially, there will be no personal training, group fitness classes or classes led by clubs and independent contractors, he added.
All members must wear a face covering while preparing to enter the center and when not working out inside the facility.
Preparations for reopening will include a deep cleaning of the facility, installing signage, floor decals and barriers, and moving equipment, said Metcalf.
Matheson said the reopening, whenever it does occur, also will entail the following:
- Preparing the front desk with shields on the counter.
- Turning off certain equipment to promote social distancing.
- Removing furniture and porous equipment that cannot be wiped down.
- Training staff on new protocols and safety measures.
- Placing sanitizing wipes and hand-sanitizing stations throughout the facility.
- Developing new guidelines and code of conduct.
- Evaluating classes led by Rossmoor staff, independent contractors and clubs regarding registration and class sizes and timing to begin.
Locker rooms, including access to showers, will remain off limits.
“Residents should bring a water bottle and very limited personal items, as no lockers or storage cubbies will be available,” Matheson said.
As of Sunday, June 28, there were 2,802 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Contra Costa County, including 42 current hospitalizations and 74 deaths.
“As people do venture outside their homes and back to normal social interactions, it’s important to do everything possible to reduce the risk for getting or spreading COVID-19,” the county says on its coronavirus website. “Wear a face covering. Maintain 6 feet of social distance. Wash your hands often. Stay home if you are sick.”