Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces gyms can reopen Sept. 9 with limitations

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday that gyms across Michigan will all be allowed to reopen effective Wednesday, Sept. 9 with limitations including wearing a mask at all times, 25% capacity restrictions, and more.

Gov. Whitmer made the announcement to allow gyms and fitness centers, which have been closed since March, to reopen with the limitations starting on Wednesday, Sept. 9. 

The governor teased the announcement during Wednesday's press conference, saying an announcement on gyms would come 'very soon'. 

Movie theaters are not part of Thursday's announcement. 

Under the executive order, gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, exercise facilities, exercise studios, bowling alleys, roller rinks, ice rinks, and similar facilities will be allowed to reopen but only for the sole purpose of serving as a venue for organized sports, provided they follow multiple restrictions:

  • Use best efforts to provide opportunities for patrons to exercise outdoors.
  • Maintain accurate records, including date and time of entry and exit, names of patrons, and contact information, to aid with contact tracing; and deny entry to any visitor who does not provide at a minimum their name and phone number.
  • Mandate wearing of facial coverings at all times except when swimming.
  • Limit capacity in the facility to 25% of the total occupancy limits established by the State Fire Marshal or a local fire marshal.
  • Configure workout stations or implement protocols to enable six feet of distance between individuals during exercise sessions (or six feet of distance with barriers).
  • Reduce class sizes, as necessary, to enable at least six feet of separation between individuals, and comply with relevant restrictions on social gatherings and organized events in the Michigan Safe Start Order.
  • Provide equipment-cleaning products throughout the facility for use on equipment.
  • Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or similar disinfectant readily available.
  • Regularly disinfect exercise equipment, including immediately after use. If patrons are expected to disinfect, post signs encouraging patrons to disinfect equipment.
  • Ensure that ventilation systems operate properly.
  • Increase introduction and circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, or other methods.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect public areas, locker rooms, and restrooms.
  • Close steam rooms, saunas, jacuzzis, and cold plunge pools.
  • Post signs outside of entrances instructing individuals not to enter if they are or have recently been sick.

Whitmer also announced that organized sports would be allowed to resume with strict safety measures.

“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.” 

"Basically there were no issues, no outbreaks up north, so applying the same science we were wondering why couldn't we reopen here," said Steven Satovsky, the owner of the Beverly Hills Club.

The Beverly Hills Club put strict protocols in place and defied the Governor's Order and reopened to members in August.

"Our members were begging us to open, so we reopened," Satovsky said. "It has been a slow go."

Now that these fitness centers and gyms can officially reopen, they hope it will give their business the financial boost they need.

The owner of Plant Fitness hopes it will prevent another public health crisis  

"There was one study that we looked at, where upwards 48 percent of the people that did have an exercise routine stopped working out back in April," said Bryan Rief. "So it was very important for us to get people back exercising."

FOX 2 first reported last Friday that Gov. Whitmer was poised to make the announcement for gyms across the entire state. Gyms and movie theaters in the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City regions have been open since June 5 when those two regions were moved into phase 5 of the state's restart program.

Gyms were first forced to close in Michigan in mid-March when all non-essential businesses were shuttered. Since then, many other businesses have reopened as the state continues to battle the spread of COVID-19.

For months, owners have pleaded with the governor's office to allow them to reopen. However, because heavy breathing and perspiration can cause the virus to spread, Whitmer has held off on allowing them to reopen and last week she said she wouldn't be bullied into the decision.

FOX 2 has featured several gym owners who have asked the governor to reconsider the closure. One of them, the Beverly Hills Club, reopened for workouts despite the order.

"We've gotten absolutely no response from the government," owner Steven Satovsky said. "We feel like we've just been a forgotten industry."

In June, a federal judge ruled that gyms could reopen despite the order. Just hours before gyms were going to reopen, a federal appeals court sided with the governor's orders to keep gyms closed to the public.