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Gov. Whitmer: Gyms can reopen; sports can resume, but not advised

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Posted at 3:09 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 11:34:14-04

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says gyms can reopen after over five months of closure and organized sports can resume.

She lifted some coronavirus restrictions Thursday that lasted longer in Michigan than in many other states.

The order, effective next Wednesday, allows for reopening fitness centers and indoor pools in remaining regions that hold 93% of the state’s population.

It requires gyms and pools to enforce strict safety measures.

Masks will be required inside gyms, including during exercise.

They will also need to allow for at least six feet between individuals during exercise sessions, reduce class sizes to enable at least six feet of separation between individuals, provide equipment-cleaning products throughout the gym and more.

Read the full order here.

Whitmer's administration released separate guidance recommending against — but not prohibiting — sports involving more than occasional and fleeting contact: football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, hockey, wrestling, field hockey, boxing and martial arts with opponents.

“However, we know of 30 reported outbreaks involving athletic teams and facilities in August," Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said. 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.”

Spectators for indoor organized sports are limited to guests of up to two per athlete.

Read the full guidance here.

For outdoor sports competitions, the organizer of the competitions must either limit the audience to the guests of the participants with each athlete designating up to two guests, or limit total attendance to 100 people or fewer, including all participants like athletes, coaches, and staff.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also released guidance today on organized sports.

They recommend against contact sports because of "elevated risk," saying that those who do participate should take steps to mitigate the risk.

That includes frequent hand washing, not letting players share towels, clothing, or other items they use to wipe their faces or hands, ensuring proper cleaning and disinfection of objects and equipment, prioritizing outdoor practice and more.

Read the full guidance here.

“Going forward, we will continue to work with health experts to assess the risk associated with business sectors that remain closed," Whitmer said. "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."