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Rossmoor reopens: Closer look at what’s open and the new rules

Maggie Sharpe

Staff writer

(June 16, 2020) Residents are reveling in some of their favorite pastimes again, albeit with pandemic precautions.

Contra Costa County issued a public health order June 5 that gave the green light to a phased reopening of everything from dog parks to swimming pools, gyms, outdoor dining, shopping malls and – what many need most – hair salons and barber shops. All come with rules on social distancing and wearing masks.

Rossmoor dog park

Rossmoor dog park reopened June 8. In compliance with social distancing, nobody can sit on the benches, which are taped off with yellow tape.

Albione Becnel was at the park on the second day it opened with her Tibetan terrier, Skye. She’s glad the park is open again, but she’d like a place to sit down.

“It’s hard for a bunch of old people to stand around like this,” said Becnel.

Her friend Pat Donahue, who also owns a Tibetan terrier named Stella, said she knew residents could bring their own chair if they want to sit down, but she didn’t want to have to carry a chair and keep an eye on Stella, too.

Becnel said people depend on the park, for dogs to “do their business” and also get exercise.

“Everyone’s glad it’s open; we can social distance easily – dog owners aren’t given to mob behavior,” said Becnel.

Donahue said she took Stella to the soccer field at Tice Creek Community Gym when the dog park was closed. Becnel said she mainly walked Skye around her neighborhood.

“The dog park is the only place I can safely let Skye off leash,” said Becnel. “That’s why I come here.”

Donahue agreed. “It’s clean, shady and cooler than anywhere else on a hot day,” she said.

Creekside dining

In addition to its pickup and delivery options, Creekside Grill now offers outdoor dining in its three patio areas, with reservations only. The restaurant is open seven days a week (including Monday), from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The new dining option is proving popular, according to grill manager Joel Barajas.

“The first weekend we were open we were very busy,” said Barajas, adding that there was a line of people waiting outside before the restaurant even opened.

He said that tables and chairs are sanitized between every customer and that kitchen staff wear masks and gloves. Serving staff are only required to wear masks but will don gloves if the customer desires.

Janet Jolley and Sydne Bernard were sharing a hamburger on the patio last week. Six of the 15 tables on the patio were occupied for lunch.

“It’s nice to be outside with a place to sit down,” said Bernard.

“It’s a milestone,” said Jolley, a regular customer of the grill before COVID-19. “Once people hear the grill is open, they’ll all be back again.”

As they’ve done many times in the past, golfers Bill Dorband, Collen Smith, Harvey Samuels and Alan Miller were having a post-golfing lunch on the Creekside Grill patio.

“What a relief to have the restaurant open again,” said Dorband, adding that he and his buddies stick to the nine-hole Creekside Course. “That’s plenty for us. We’re old!”

For June and July, Creekside Grill will be open for the following hours due to the COVID-19 restrictions:

  • Monday: Happy hour from 2:30 to 4 pm. and dinner from 4 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday through Sunday: Lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., including happy hour from 2:30 to 4 p.m., and dinner from 4 to 8:30 p.m.

Starting on July 1, indoor seating also will be allowed. To make a reservation, call 925-949-8658 or 925-954-1063.

Swimming pools

Hillside and Dollar outdoor pools opened last Friday. The indoor pool at the Fitness Center pool remains closed, by county order. Both pools are open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., except for cleaning times. To accommodate cleaning, Hillside is open 1 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dollar is open 1 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

Mary Hardy, assistant head lifeguard, said that when she came into her office after the pool openings were announced, she had 173 emails and 73 voicemails. So, people are obviously thrilled to be able to swim again.

Both pools are limited to six swimmers for 45-minute sessions, starting at the top of the hour; swimmers must make a reservation in advance. Hillside is being used for lap swimming only; Dollar is open swim.

“The lifeguards will sanitize the pool area after each group of swimmers,” said Hardy, adding that the 6-foot social distance rule will be enforced – including in the pool.


Rules for Outdoor Pools


Hardy requests that people who want to make a reservation by email or phone provide their name, phone number, address (to ensure Rossmoor residency), which pool they want to swim in, and a few preferred swim times.

“Residents can only request one swim time at a time,” said Hardy. The pools are open for residents only, no guests; sunbathing or gathering on the pool deck is not permitted.

Hardy said that lifeguards will wear masks and follow Red Cross guidelines. Only toilets, not changing rooms, are open. However, residents can use the outdoor showers to rinse off.

For reservations, email or call the Aquatics office at 925-988-7854.

Fitness Center

Gyms and fitness centers can reopen on July 1, per the June 5 public health order.

However, according to Jeff Matheson, director of Resident Services, until the county provides GRF with detailed safety protocols for reopening Tice Creek Fitness Center, a final opening date can’t be set.

“For example, we may need a reservation system that will take some time to implement,” Matheson explained.

Details will be provided in a future issue of the News.

Picnic grounds

The picnic and barbecue grounds are also now available by reservation.

On June 10 Tricia Spires met up with her sister Kathy Hallock, who lives in San Ramon, for a picnic lunch at Shady Glen Park at Hillside. On the menu were sandwiches, fruit, chips, dessert and soda.

“My sister and I talk on the phone and email each other, but it’s so different to see someone in person,” said Spires. “It’s a beautiful way to get connected, especially to family.”

Spires said she’s booked a picnic table every week through November so that she can see her sister.

It’s not the first time they’ve picnicked at the park since the pandemic. In April, when the sisters both have birthdays, Spires got the OK from Securitas to meet her sister at Shady Glen to celebrate.

“Securitas was wonderful; they even came by to make sure we weren’t having a big party,” said Spires.

Per the rules, both women wore masks, which can only be taken off when people are eating. The sisters sat at opposite ends of the bench to stick with the 6-foot rule. Spires also brought table and bench coverings, just to err on the safe side.

Reservations for the picnic areas are required. To reserve, call the Recreation Department at 925-988-7781.

Golf Shop

The Golf Shop opened June 5 with new protocols. No more than four people are allowed in the shop at one time. There are now separate entrance and exit doors. Masks must be worn in the shop, and customers who touch the merchandise are asked to wear gloves.

Mark Weiss of the Rossmoor Men’s Golf Club (RMGC) announced that the club’s first tournament in about three months would be held today.

Aptly named the Pandemic Tournament because of COVID-19 restrictions, Weiss said RMGC is planning a variety of tournaments down the road that will provide not just golf, but a chance to socialize.

Retail reopens

Hair salons and barbershops got the go-ahead to reopen on June 15.

Indoor retail is allowed as of June 5, so long as stores limit personnel and customers so that social distancing can be maintained. Indoor malls also can reopen once they provide the county with a COVID-19 prevention plan. And pet grooming was among the businesses allowed to reopen as well.

The order also permits services in which close customer contact is not required, such as housekeeping, plumbing, dog walking and car washing.

Religious and worship gatherings

Places of worship can resume in-person religious services and cultural ceremonies with a maximum of 12 people inside or 100 people outside.

The groups who regularly hold gatherings in Rossmoor had decided to wait until larger groups could come together.