Michigan gyms not allowed to reopen as COVID closures drag on, owners plead for Gov. Whitmer to reconsider

It's been a long five months since Michigan businesses were first ordered shut down due to the coronavirus. Since the middle of March, most businesses have been allowed to reopen in some form except for bowling alleys, gyms, and movie theaters. Now many are considered they won't ever reopen, even when the virus is finally under control.

For the past five months, businesses like Beverly Hills Club and Planet Fitness have been playing the waiting game. There's still no end in sight.

"I feel like we are a forgotten industry," said Satovsky.

On Tuesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference to discuss the state's COVID-19 response. She was asked about the timetable to reopen fitness clubs and gyms and made her position clear: it's not time.

"The COVID-19 threat is still a very real threat," she said. I'm not going to be bullied into making that decision. I'm going to follow the science, I'm going to work with (Chief Medical Director Dr. Joneigh) Khaldun."

Fitness clubs across southeast Michigan say they are ready to reopen and are confident they have sufficient protocols in place to keep their clients safe 

"We've been hopeful for a while. We've we've been ready for a while," said planet fitness owner Keith Bertram. "We have a robust playlist upwards of 90 pages of documentation handling everything from cleaning, sanitation, communicating with members."

The Beverly Hills Club also has safety protocols in place, and last week, owner Steven Satovsky decided to defy the governor's order and open its doors after being shut down since March. He said he didn't think he could survive much longer.

"We're a family business, we want to be here for another 47 years. I'm not doing this for me. My employees need some answers," he said.

The owner of the Beverly Hills Club says this delay to officially reopen is not only costing many businesses much-needed revenue it's also costing them good employees 

"I just lost two employees on Monday, they're moving out of the state," he said. "They're going to Toledo."

Sartovsky is pleading with the Governor to come inside his business and see first hand that the gyms and fitness clubs can reopen safely 

"Please. Come here, help us. There's a restaurant open right here, I'll buy lunch," he said.