Governor, MDHHS lift ban on winter contact sports

Posted at 9:57 AM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 13:45:45-05

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave an update Thursday afternoon on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, announcing the return of in-person high school winter contact sports practice and competition.

Watch the press conference:

The ban on contact practices and competitions in wrestling, competitive cheer, boys basketball and girls basketball will be lifted starting Feb. 8.

Masks will be required unless incompatible with competition, in which case participants must be regularly tested for COVID-19.

The order remains in effect through Monday, March 29.

State Rep. Kelly Breen posted on Facebook on Thursday that the Governor's Office, MDHHS, and MHSAA reached an agreement, with details to be announced during the afternoon press conference.

After weeks of meeting and talking with athletes, parents, the MHSAA, MDHHS, local school board members, and state...

Posted by State Representative Kelly Breen on Thursday, February 4, 2021

“Michigan continues to be a national leader in fighting this virus, and we must continue using a fact-based approach so we can return to a strong economy and normal day-to-day activities," Whitmer said. "One of the most important things Michiganders can do is to make a plan to get the safe and effective vaccine when it’s available to you. And as always, mask up and maintain six feet of social distancing. We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of the virus so we can end this pandemic together.”

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive with MDHHS, also took part in Thursday afternoon's press conference.

She says 28 cases of a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus has been identified in the state so far, and more cases may be out there.

The news conference comes as a coalition urging the state to allow winter contact sports to start immediately filed a lawsuit against the state health department.

RELATED: 'Let Them Play' coalition files lawsuit over winter sports postponement

In light of the lifting of the ban, "Let Them Play" says the lawsuit may be dismissed.

“Let Them Play Michigan appreciates Director Hertel’s efforts to move this important issue forward in a timely manner. The lack of high school sports has had a negative impact on young people all around this state and we are confident that sports can resume safely with precautions in place.

“We will need to review the details of the order issued today to determine the impact it will have on student athletes and their families across the state. After review, and if appropriate, we will take necessary action to dismiss the lawsuit.”
Attorney Peter Ruddell