Whitmer reopens gyms Wednesday, OKs youth sports

By Scott McClallen | The Center Square 17 hrs ago

(The Center Square) – After almost six months of forced closure, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-176, reopening Michigan’s gyms and pools where they had been shuttered and approved organized sports, subject to strict protections to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Gyms can open at 25 percent capacity or a total capacity of 250, and pools can reopen after 11:59 p.m on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

The governor also signed her 175th Executive Order outlining workplace safety measures for gyms and pools.

Gyms must require patrons to wear masks during exercise, socially distance workout stations, and reduce class sizes to space participants six feet apart.

Patrons must also log their name and phone number upon entry. 

“I urge everyone who plans to hit the gym after these orders go into effect to take these precautions seriously and do everything in their power to protect themselves and their families,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Be smart, and stay safe.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released guidance on organized sports, recommending against contact sports, including football, basketball and soccer.

Spectators for indoor organized sports spectators are limited to the two guests of the athletes.

Outdoor sports organizers must limit spectators to two participant guests or limit total attendance to 100 people or fewer, counting all participants and coaches.

Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun cited 30 reported outbreaks involving athletic teams and facilities in August.

“Based on current data, contact sports create a high risk of COVID-19 transmission and MDHHS strongly recommends against participating in them at this time. We are not out of the woods yet. COVID-19 is still a very real threat to our families.”

Gyms welcomed the announcement.

“On behalf of the Michigan Fitness Club Association, we appreciate Governor Whitmer’s announcement regarding the re-opening of gyms and fitness centers,” Vice-Chair of the Michigan Fitness Club Association Alyssa Tushman said in a statement.

“The health and safety of our members, staff, and the public in general is our top priority. We are well-prepared to ensure a safe, clean environment and we are excited to offer Michiganders the opportunity to resume their exercise routines.”

MDHHS’ guidance recommends teams safety measures, including frequent handwashing, not sharing equipment, ensuring proper cleaning and disinfection of objects and equipment, and prioritizing outdoor practice.

“As we begin to start organized sports back up again, I urge school districts and athletic associations to do everything in their power to protect players, coaches, and staff. That means carefully following the guidelines released today by DHHS,” Whitmer said in a statement.

“Going forward, we will continue to work with health experts to assess the risk associated with business sectors that remain closed. For the health and safety of our families and frontline workers, it is crucial that we proceed thoughtfully and incrementally so we can measure the effects of today’s actions before we take additional steps towards re-engagement.”

Thomas Faro, executive director of the Michigan State Youth Soccer Association, said his organization is working with the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health to keep 90,000 players and 11,000 team officials safe

Theaters are still closed under the order, except in regions six and eight.

Bowling alleys, roller rinks, and ice rinks can only open as a venue for organized sports. 

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