Gov. Whitmer signs executive order requiring face coverings for organized sports

Executive order requires face coverings if athlete cannot maintain 6-foot distance, excludes swimming


Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Wednesday in regards to face coverings for organized sports.

Executive Order 2020-180, “specifies that a face covering must be worn at all times by athletes training for, practicing for, or competing in an organized sport when the athlete cannot maintain 6 feet of social distance, except for occasional and fleeting moments,” read a press release from Whitmer’s office.

The order excludes athletes who are swimming.

“The COVID-19 virus is easily spread through airborne particles and can affect everyone differently. By wearing a face covering when proper distancing is not possible, athletes will be better protected from contracting the virus and spreading it to family members, frontline workers, and vulnerable populations,” Whitmer said. “We cannot afford to let our guard down. As we continue to fight this virus, we need to make smart and informed choices so we can beat COVID-19 together.”

The order comes a week after Whitmer announced the plan to reopen gyms, pools and allow organized sports to resume across the state.

Gyms reopened Wednesday with restrictions that gym goers must wear a face covering at all times, including during exercise, and create workout stations or implement protocols to allow six feet of distance between everyone inside.

“We are not out of the woods yet, and COVID-19 is still a persistent threat to our frontline workers, students, and families,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) chief deputy for health. “Individuals have a choice about whether or not to play organized sports.

"Since contact sports pose a high risk of transmitting COVID-19, MDHHS recommends that people should choose to avoid them. For those who do choose to play organized sports, we expect you to follow these strict safety measures and wear a face covering to reduce your risk and protect the health of your teammates, coaches, officials, and loved ones.”

The MDHHS released guidance on organized sports, recommending against contact sports at this time. The department also cites the 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' guidance recommends mitigation measures organized sports teams may take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during training, practices, and competitions. These recommendations include 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.

About the Author:

DeJanay Booth joined WDIV as a web producer in July 2020. She previously worked as a news reporter in New Mexico before moving back to Michigan.