Whitmer allows gyms to reopen, high school sports to resume

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed executive orders Thursday allowing gyms to reopen Sept. 9 and organized sports to resume.

Gyms that reopen will be required to implement a set of restrictions intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including limiting their capacity to 25% of the total occupancy limit.

Face masks will be required in gyms at all times, including while exercising, and workout stations must be organized to enable at least six feet of distance between individuals.

Customers will be required to provide their name and phone number upon entry to assist with contact tracing. Visitors who refuse to provide the information will not be allowed to enter.

Steam rooms, saunas, hot tubs and cold plunge pools must remain closed.

“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,” Whitmer said.

Organized sports are allowed to resume under Whitmer’s order, but the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services warned that contact sports like football, basketball and soccer pose a high risk of spreading COVID-19 and “should be avoided at this time.”

“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 Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive. “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.”

Despite the warning, the Michigan High School Athletic Association voted Thursday to allow a shortened football season this fall, with practices resuming next week and games beginning Sept. 18.

“We are thankful for the opportunity for kids to get back on the field in all fall sports, and we appreciate Governor Whitmer providing that opportunity,” said MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl.

Athletes will be required to wear face masks.

Attendance at indoor sporting events will be limited to guests of participants, with each athlete allowed to name up to two guests. Outdoor sporting events may have more attendees as long as the total number of people gathered does not exceed 100 individuals, including all participants.

Concessions will not be allowed to be sold at indoor sports venues.

Bowling alleys, roller rinks and ice rinks are allowed to reopen to host organized sports under the order but must remain closed to the general public.

Movie theaters, performance venues, amusement parks, arcades and bingo halls remain closed in most of the state under the order.

Michigan had 104,395 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state Thursday, and 6,519 people have died from the virus.

Of the confirmed cases, 3,252 are in Genesee County, and 279 people in the county have died from the virus.

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