LANSING, Mich. – When Michigan’s new COVID-19 order goes into effect this weekend, some additional indoor physical activities will be allowed.
Director Robert Gordon, of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said the new order will go into effect Jan. 16 and last through Jan. 31. The previous MDHHS order was set to expire Friday.
“For the most part, the prior order remains in place,” Gordon said. “This includes prohibiting indoor gatherings outside the household where masks are removed. There is one change. In order to support physical and mental health, we’ll be permitting indoor athletics.”
Gordon said indoor athletics will be allowed on the condition that participants wear masks and practice social distancing.
“So, group exercise classes can open with distancing and masks,” Gordon said. “Young people can practice sports in gyms with distancing and masking.”
Playing those same sports competitively in a way that involves contact with others, is still not allowed. Outdoor contact sports are also banned, except when they fall under the state’s special testing program.
“We are confident that MDHHS can lift some of the protocols that were previously in place,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “Indoor group fitness and exercise classes may resume (Jan. 16) with masks, and indoor non-contact sports may resume.”
Whitmer said if numbers continue to head in the right direction, more of the state will reopen in the coming weeks, including a possible Feb. 1 resumption of indoor dining at restaurants.
According to the Michigan High School Athletic Association, Wednesday’s announcement means three additional non-contact winter high school sports will be allowed to restart practice Saturday (Jan. 16).
Four winter contact sports may also begin indoor practices with non-contact activities, MHSAA announced.
Girls gymnastics, girls and boys bowling, and girls and boys swimming and diving may begin competition before the end of January, officials said.
Swimming and diving will begin Jan. 22 and gymnastics and bowling will begin Jan. 25.
Masks will be required for all participants, except when they are actively participating in gymnastics and swimming and diving. Spectators will be capped at 100 in school gyms or 250 in stadiums and arenas, per MDHHS orders.
Basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling are considered contact sports and may begin non-contact practices Saturday. Their first competitions are scheduled for Feb. 1.
Due to the later start to competition schedules, the MHSAA will adjust tournament dates for those four sports to end later than currently scheduled. Those dates will be announced later this week.
Girls and boys skiing, as an outdoor non-contact sport, was allowed to begin in December.
Fitness club statement
Here is a statement from Michigan Fitness Club Association Vice Chair Alyssa Tushman:
“MFCA applauds the Whitmer administration’s announcement (Wednesday) allowing Michigan gyms and fitness centers to resume group fitness classes and a six-foot distance requirement, as well as the availability of grants for our industry. These are all crucial for Michigan gyms and fitness centers that have been hit hard by the past year’s shutdowns, restrictions and COVID-19-related membership cancellations.
“The research announced last week by Henry Ford Health Systems underscores an important fact we’ve been stressing for months: physically fit people have better outcomes with COVID 19, mental health and other illnesses.
“The MFCA has promoted the implementation of comprehensive cleaning, sanitizing, social distancing and contact tracing protocols to make our member gyms and fitness centers the safest possible environment for our members to pursue their health goals, recognizing good health is more important than ever.
“Continued support from Gov. Whitmer and other state leaders to help Michigan’s fitness businesses survive this crisis and continue serving our members is appreciated and remains highly important, and we thank the governor for (Tuesday)’s announcement.”