Michigan, Get Out Your Sports Gear, Gym Bag, and Swim Suits: Gyms and Pools are Now Open and Competitive Sports are Back in Session

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Due to the plateau of COVID-19 cases in Michigan, on September 3, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-176 to “carefully and deliberately relax some restrictions.” Most notably, the Order permits organized sports practices and competitions to resume and allows for the reopening of gymnasiums, fitness facilities, and the like, as well as pools across the state.

EO 2020-176 rescinds and replaces Executive Orders 2020-160 and 2020-162, but maintains the same restrictions in regards to working from home; social distancing outside the home; closures of places of public accommodations (but for gyms and pools); bar restrictions; liquor license restrictions; rules on gatherings, events, and large venues; parks; and religious worship. 

The Order outlines the following strict guidelines regarding competitive sports to ensure physical health and safety of participants:

  • To the extent possible and compatible with the sport, participating athletes must maintain six feet of distance and wear facial coverings, except when swimming;
  • Audience attendance is limited to two guests per athlete, and for outdoor competitions, additional participants must be limited to 100 or fewer people total per event (including athletes, coaches, staff, etc.);
  • No concessions are to be sold at indoor venues; and
  • As to professional sports leagues, teams, and individuals:
    • No live audiences are allowed;
    • The activities are conducted pursuant to a COVID-19 safety plan consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; and
    • Participants maintain a six feet distance to the extent possible and compatible with the sport.

The Order places the responsibility on sports organizers to ensure the sport can be played safely and to ensure compliance with the Order.

The governor also signed Executive Order 2020-175, which rescinds and replaces Executive Order 2020-161. The Order provides extensive safeguards to protect Michigan workers from COVID-19 throughout various industries, but only significantly differs from Order 2020-61 by now including safety measures for gyms and pools. For gyms, this includes the following requirements:

  • Use best efforts to make exercise outdoors available;
  • Maintain records of patrons, at a minimum their name and phone number, to aid with contact tracing;
  • Require face coverings at all times, except for swimming;
  • Limit facility capacity to 25%;
  • Move workout stations or implement protocols to enable six-feet social distancing;
  • Reduce class sizes to enable six-feet social distancing;
  • Provide equipment cleaning products throughout facility;
  • Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water readily available;
  • Regularly disinfect equipment and if patrons are expected to do so, post signage;
  • Ensure proper ventilation systems;
  • Open windows, doors, use fans, or other way to circulate outdoor air when possible;
  • Regularly clean and disinfect public areas;
  • Keep steam rooms, saunas, Jacuzzis, and cold plunge pools closed; and
  • Post signs on all entrances instructing those who are or have been recently sick not to enter.

Outdoor pools must be limited to 50% capacity and indoor pools must be limited to 25% capacity as described in Rules 325.2193 of the Michigan Administrative Code. Pool deck capacity must be configured and limited to ensure that persons not of the same household maintain six feet of distance.

A willful violation of either EO 2020-176 or 2020-175 is a misdemeanor consistent with MCL 10.33 and MCL 30.405(3).

EO 2020-176 and 2020-175 are effective immediately, with gyms permitted to open on September 8, 2020 at 11:59 pm and pools on September 9, 2020.

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