Michigan gyms and pools are allowed to reopen starting Sept. 9 and high school sports can take place under the latest move from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
“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 press release.
“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.”
Gyms in southern Michigan have been closed since March. Gym owners have questioned that decision and said it put them in a difficult financial situation. Some opened in defiance of the governor’s orders.
Under Executive Order 175 and 176, they can reopen at 25% capacity with strict safety protocols, including that attendees must maintain six feet of physical distance and wear masks even while working out.
Bowling alleys, roller rinks, and ice rinks can reopen solely for the purpose of hosting organized sporting events.
The governor also announced organized sports could resume statewide under new guidance issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
“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,” said Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun 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.”
Currently, football has been postponed to the spring, although there is a potential window open for it to return to the fall. Other sports, like volleyball and swimming, were impossible under the governor’s prior orders because of the restrictions on indoor fitness facilities.
In its guidance MDHHS recommends against — but does not prohibit — contact sports like football, basketball and soccer.
MDHHS also recommends mitigation measures like frequent handwashing, not sharing towels or clothing and prioritizing outdoor practices.
“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.
“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.”
COVID-19 PREVENTION TIPS
In addition to washing hands regularly and not touching your face, officials recommend practicing social distancing, assuming anyone may be carrying the virus.
Health officials say you should be staying at least 6 feet away from others and working from home, if possible.
Use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray cleaners on frequently-touched surfaces in your home (door handles, faucets, countertops) and carry hand sanitizer with you when you go into places like stores.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also issued executive orders requiring people to wear face coverings over their mouth and nose while in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces. See an explanation of what that means here.
For more data on COVID-19 in Michigan, visit https://www.mlive.com/coronavirus/data/.