Michigan's gyms and pools are finally allowed to reopen

Sep 3, 2020 at 3:31 pm
click to enlarge An empty Planet Fitness parking lot. - Jam1 Productions, Shutterstock
Jam1 Productions, Shutterstock
An empty Planet Fitness parking lot.

Good news for gym rats: on Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order that allows gyms and pools to reopen, so people can get started on burning off that "quarantine 15." They've been closed since mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic first hit.

Executive Order 2020-176 allows for Michigan's gyms and pools to reopen starting on Wednesday, Sept. 9. Another order, Executive Order 2020-175, outlines workplace safety measures meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"Throughout this pandemic, we have followed the best science and data available to make decisions that will keep Michiganders safe, and our hard work is paying off. Today we are announcing the reopening of gyms and pools with strict safety measures in place to protect patrons and their families," Whitmer said in a statement. "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. Be smart, and stay safe."

The order also includes guidelines for organized sports, but Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief deputy for Health of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, advises against sports for now.

"Individuals can now choose whether or not to play organized sports, and if they do choose to play, this order requires strict safety measures to reduce risk," Khaldun said in a statement. "However, we know of 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."

The order calls for gyms to require wearing masks at all times, including during exercise. Gyms are also asked to reconfigure their floors to allow for six feet of distance between people.

Meanwhile, the organized sports guidelines limit spectators to guests of the athletes, with each athlete allowed up to two guests, and puts a cap of total spectators to 100 people or fewer.

Some gyms owners defied Whitmer's orders, including CrossFit Menace in Brighton, which falsely claimed on its Facebook page that people "have a BETTER chance of dying from a shark attack … than you do from the Covid Cold bug."

In June, a federal appeals court made a last-minute decision to prevent gyms and fitness centers from reopening.

The coronavirus has killed more than 6,700 people in Michigan.

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