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Gov. Whitmer signed an executive order on Sept. 3 announcing gyms and pools can reopen in regions where they were previously closed.

The order also allows organized sports practices and competitions to resume in those regions where they remain restricted.

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Gyms and pools may reopen beginning Sept. 9 with strict workplace safety measures to protect people from COVID-19.

“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,” said Governor Whitmer. “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.” 

“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.” 

“On behalf of the Michigan Fitness Club Association, we appreciate Governor Whitmer’s announcement regarding the re-opening of gyms and fitness centers,” said Alyssa Tushman, Vice Chair of the Michigan Fitness Club Association. “The health and safety of our members, staff, and the public in general is our top priority. We are well-prepared to ensure a safe, clean environment and we are excited to offer Michiganders the opportunity to resume their exercise routines. We look forward to working with Governor Whitmer and her administration to help build a healthy Michigan.” 

Gyms must require wearing masks at all times including times of exercise, implement workout stations to enable six feet between individuals exercising, reduce class sizes to enable at least six feet between individuals and provide cleaning products for gym equipment throughout the facility.

For organized sports, spectators of indoor organized sports are limited to the guests of the athletes with each athlete allowed two guests.

For outdoor sports, the organizer of the competitions must either limit the audience to the guests of the participant or limit the total attendance to 100 people or fever which includes participants, staff and coaches.

“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,” said Governor Whitmer. “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."  

“We are pleased with the opportunity to move forward. Our Association continues to work with a team from the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health to ensure the safety of approximately 90,000 players and 11,000 team officials,” said Thomas Faro, Executive Director of the Michigan State Youth Soccer Association. “We will continue these efforts through our return to play guidelines and in strict accordance with Governor Whitmer’s Executive Orders.” 

The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association released the following statement:

“The governor’s new executive order is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough to help struggling bowling alleys throughout the state,” said MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis. “The MLBA worked with several bowling alleys to put together a safe plan for reopening to the public. This plan was sent to the governor.”

Economically, bowling alleys are among the hardest hit by COVID-19 closures. Often times, they are large facilities that depend on steady business from multiple sources to keep their doors open.

“Bowling alleys aren’t just bowling alleys anymore – they are family centers. They have bowling, arcades, bars, restaurants, laser tag and other sources of entertainment,” Ellis said. “However, bowling happens to be a sport that the public can participate in while easily social distancing.”

Many bowling alleys throughout the state have purchased plastic sheets to put between lanes, would require bowlers to remain six feet apart if not from the same household and would clean house balls, similar to house shoes, after each use.

“Many of these businesses cannot survive on league play alone,” Ellis said. “For many, it may not even be worth opening for those few short hours.”

Whitmer tweeted the following:

Today, I signed an executive order that allows for the reopening of gyms and pools and for organized sports to resume practices, all with strict safety measures in place. Our hard work is paying off, so please, take the precautions seriously. Let’s keep making progress together.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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