Moving to Reopen as Pandemic Eases

Joyce O’Connor

         Oakmonters have mixed feelings about the pandemic that took over their way of life on March of 2020.

         Interviewed a few days after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared California open, people didn’t hesitate to express their views. Some were delighted that restrictions finally were removed. Others had strong doubts about the decision.

         Barbara Hopp, finishing a mask-less walk along Channel Drive, expressed delight that “life is getting back to normal.” She already is going to Mexico in a few weeks and is planning an international trip to Portugal and Spain.

         Dennis Sabourin was more cautious. “I expect to be back to normal by September,” he said.

         Tina Nerat wasn’t at all confident and didn’t hesitate expressing her feelings. She does not believe the pandemic is over and will continue playing it safe, continuing to follow COVID restrictions. She is willing to delay re-uniting with family and friends and is concerned that people are moving too quickly to start traveling, especially abroad. Her advice is “let’s see what the summer brings.”

         Oakmonters are well aware of their good fortune. The pandemic hasn’t touched them as it has the younger generation. They don’t have to worry about losing a job or disrupting the lives of their children and grandchildren. At their age there isn’t much they can do about this changing world.  What matters now are re-connecting with loved ones – family friends and neighbors.

         Lupe Filea is 95 years old, grateful to be living in Oakmont, able to take care of herself and her home and to walk everyday. “I’ve walked all my life. I am not afraid.” Her husband died several years ago and now their two sons who live in the area call her every morning – before her walk.

         Oakmont has so much to offer its more than 4,000 residents. John and Judy Fisher are thrilled to re-start activities they enjoyed before all the facilities and clubs suddenly shut down.

         Colin Hannigan, OVA  communications coordinator, is “pretty happy” to see things going back to normal.”

         Facility capacity is back to pre-COVID limits. Social distancing no longer is required, masks only if the person is unvaccinated. 

         The Fitness Center opens at 5 a.m. along with pools, saunas, spas, locker rooms and showers. No reservations needed. The library is open every day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m..

         The playing fields for lawn bowling, bocce ball, pickleball, petanque, shuffleboard and the tennis courts are ready for play. Jim Krause, lawn bowling board member and area tournament winner, laughed when he noted “no more bumping elbows. Now we can hug.” Tournaments will have a party atmosphere with a table set with drinks and food for players and guests. 

         OVA hasn’t forgotten the grandchildren. They are allowed again to visit, play and swim.  Good news for Martin and Carole Kilgariff, who have 11 grandchildren they sorely missed seeing. Now, Carole revealed, she learned to appreciate take-out food. Bringing it home and ready to cook makes it so much easier to entertain family and neighbors. Children can use the Central Pool from noon until 4 p.m.

         All the more than 100 clubs in Oakmont are back on schedule ready for the remainder of the year. Playreaders, for example, are planning a get-acquainted reception.

         Beginning in July, OVA will introduce equipment for Zoom hybrid meetings at the Berger Center. A large television screen will be installed near the stage to serve both in-person gatherings and Zoom participants at home.

         Bruce Hill likes the idea of the mixture of in-person events and the continuation of virtual platforms. “I think it is appropriate to have new ways of doing things,” he says. But he doesn’t want to sacrifice face-to-face social connections. “I prefer doing things the old way – just show up and enjoy”.