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Gov. Whitmer reopens Michigan gyms and pools, allows organized sports to resume

MDHHS cites elevated risk of COVID-19 spread linked to contact sports

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her Sept. 2, 2020, coronavirus (COVID-19) press briefing.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her Sept. 2, 2020, coronavirus (COVID-19) press briefing. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is reopening gyms and pools and allowing organized sports to resume across the state.

Whitmer said Wednesday during her coronavirus (COVID-19) briefing that an announcement about gyms and organized sports would be made “in the coming days.” About 24 hours later, she revealed executive orders reopening gyms and pools and permitting sports.

Both practices and competitions can resume throughout the state, though there will be strict protections in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Gyms and pools can start reopening Wednesday (Sept. 9) and must follow certain safety measures. Gyms have to require masks at all times, including during exercise, and create workout stations or implement protocols to allow six feet of distance between everyone inside.

READ: MHSAA reinstates fall football, other high school sports in Michigan

Class sizes must be reduced to allow at least six feet of separation between participants. Products for equipment cleaning have to be available throughout gyms.

“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,” Whitmer said. “Today, we are announcing the reopening of gyms and pools with strict safety measures in place to protect patrons and their families. 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.”

Each athlete can have up to two guests at indoor organized sporting events, and no other spectators are allowed.

For outdoor competitions, the organizer has to either limit the audience to guests of the athletes or no more than 100 people, including participants.

“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. “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.”

MDHHS released guidance on organized sports, including recommending against contact sports at this time, including football, basketball and soccer. It also cites an elevated risk associated with activities that involve “shouting, singing or breathing forcefully,” and notes there have been 30 reported outbreaks associated with athletic clubs, teams or athletic facilities.

MDHHS recommends frequent hand washing, disallowing players from sharing towels, clothing and other items and making sure equipment is properly cleaned and disinfected.

“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.”

More coverage

Here’s much more recent coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whitmer’s handling of pandemic:

Reopening Michigan:

Health questions, advice:

Vaccines:

Outbreaks:

Unemployment:

Individual stories:

Changes:


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