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Whitmer: Gyms can reopen; sports can resume, but not advised

Last Updated Sep 3, 2020 at 4:14 pm EDT

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday that gyms can reopen after 5 1/2 months of closure and organized sports can resume if masks are worn, lifting some coronavirus restrictions that lasted longer in Michigan than in many other states.

The order, which takes effect next Wednesday, allows for the reopening of fitness centres and indoor pools in a swath of the state that is home to 93% of Michigan’s population. They were allowed to reopen in June in northern Michigan, which is less densely populated. Face coverings will be required at all times while on the field of play and inside gyms, including during exercise.

The governor, a Democrat, also allowed athletic competitions to resume in regions where they have been restricted. Her administration released separate guidance, however, recommending against — but not prohibiting — sports involving more than occasional and fleeting contact: football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, hockey, wrestling, field hockey, boxing and martial arts with opponents.

Whitmer did not reopen movie theatres statewide, though they have been allowed to open in the Upper Peninsula and many northern Lower Peninsula counties. Bowling alleys, roller rinks and ice rinks can open but only for the sole purpose of serving as a venue for organized sports — not more general public use.

The governor urged school districts and athletic associations to follow the guidelines issued by the state health department, which reported 36 outbreaks involving sports teams and facilities in August.

“Going forward, we will continue to work with health experts to assess the risk associated with business sectors that remain closed,” Whitmer said in a statement. Such operations include cinemas, performance venues, arcades, bingo halls, amusement and water parks, climbing facilities, dance areas and trampoline parks.

“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 toward reengagement,” the governor said.

David Eggert, The Associated Press

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