By Collin Breaux | Email: cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Before the world changed, the Rancho Mission Viejo community enjoyed drinks at the Hilltop Club bar on Friday nights, worked out in the gym and visited the coffeehouses in the community.

Then the coronavirus pandemic began.

Events, including the annual rodeo and regular group hikes at The Reserve, have been shut down. Businesses are closed or have reduced operations. People are hunkering down indoors. Playgrounds go unused, and traffic is light when driving through the area. There are fewer cars than usual in the parking lots at Sendero Marketplace, where many Ranch residents shop.

The parking lot at Sendero Marketplace is less crowded than usual on Tuesday, April 21. The coronavirus pandemic is forcing people to stay indoors and businesses to close or reduce operations. Photo: Collin Breaux.
A playground at Rancho Mission Viejo goes unused on Tuesday, April 21. Children are encouraged to stay indoors and not attending school in person during the coronavirus pandemic, though they are staying busy in other ways, including with distance learning. Photo: Collin Breaux.

As of Tuesday, April 21, Rancho Mission Viejo had five cases of coronavirus, according to Orange County city case count reports, after previously not having been listed. Unincorporated areas with fewer than 25,000 people are not listed by name in the Orange County reports until they reach five cases. Local officials had previously said that city-by-city case numbers might not reflect where transmission occurred or where individuals are being treated.

Despite the circumstances, life in Rancho Mission Viejo continues on, and residents find new ways of doing things. The Ranch has pivoted to their already-existing RanchLife app to facilitate communication and give tips on activities, including dancing and art. Neighbors still check in through digital get-togethers. Walkers, joggers and bikers get fresh air on the sidewalks and in the outdoors while enjoying the view of the nearby hills—and while adhering to physical distancing guidelines, of course.

“It’s been quite an interesting time for us,” said Amaya Genaro, Vice President, Community Services, for Rancho Mission Viejo. “It’s been amazing to watch how the community has come together.”

Residents have shared photos of themselves or their children enjoying the outdoor scenery, working out or just smiling. Rancho Mission Viejo has shared photos and videos on social media of people suggesting reading material, going for a hike or enjoying time with pets. Instead of being part of big crowds at the beach, kids instead enjoy the water in inflatable pools at home.

The Rancho Mission Viejo community is staying active during the global shutdown. Photo courtesy of Rancho Mission Viejo.
The global shutdown gives the Rancho Mission Viejo community a chance to enjoy the outdoors in the area. Photo courtesy of Rancho Mission Viejo.

Neighbors have offered to run errands and bring meals for each other, and groups are making protective masks for first responders and facilitating volunteer work, said Genaro. Nearby eateries are offering take-out options. The RanchLife program is also partnering with Esencia School on a food drive.

“It’s heartwarming to see neighbors live out our Ranch code—neighbors helping neighbors,” said Genaro.

The Ranch community is working together to make the best of unusual times, added Genaro.

Genaro said this is a time to enjoy the outdoor pathways and outdoor views at the Ranch. For people thinking about moving into the Ranch, virtual home tours are also available.

Though the Visitors Center is closed, Ranch officials are still available to talk to people curious about its amenities and other features.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread closures, including of a visitor center at Rancho Mission Viejo. Photo: Collin Breaux.

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