Gyms In Michigan Can Reopen June 25 After Federal Judge Rules Against Whitmer

WWJ News
June 19, 2020 - 4:59 pm
Treadmills at the gym

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(WWJ) It's a loss for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and a win for gyms that are pumped to get back to business. 

Indoor gyms statewide can reopen on Thursday, June 25, under a federal judge's ruling Friday.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Maloney said that while that state did right the right thing when it shut down gyms at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor cannot allow other types of businesses to reopen — including swimming pools, restaurants and bars, and “personal touch” services — while gyms must remain closed. 

The ruling comes after a lawsuit was filed against Whitmer by in a case brought by 20 gym companies and the League of Independent Fitness Facilities and Trainers.

Maloney's order reads in part: 

"The Court recognizes that Michigan has made great strides towards containing the pandemic, in great part because of the choices Governor Whitmer has made. In the Governor’s own words, those choices have been based on data and science, and the Court commends and respects that. But when asked what data, science, or even rationale supports the continued closure of indoor gyms, Defendants presented nothing beyond 'trust us, they’re still dangerous.'"

"From that vague statement and nothing more, the Court cannot create a set of facts that rationally connects the restriction with the legitimate government interest of protecting the public health."

- Read the judge's ruling here

In a statement, the governor's office made it clear that Whitmer isn't happy with the judge's decision, and that she intends to appeal.

“Governor Whitmer respectfully, but strongly, disagrees with this decision, and will be seeking immediate relief from the Sixth Circuit," reads the statement. “With this ruling, the court is playing a dangerous role it should not play: second-guessing and upending the data-informed decisions that have saved thousands of lives in Michigan. The idea that gyms – with their high levels of heavy respiratory activity, shared indoor spaces, and shared surfaces – might be one of the later businesses to come back online in the midst of this global pandemic is hardly surprising and highly sensible.”

Barbershops, hair salons and other personal care businesses were allowed to reopen on June 15, while indoor exercise facilities, gyms, theaters, performance venues, casinos and some other businesses remain shuttered under Whitmer's coronavirus-related emergency orders.

Some gym owners have already defied the governor's order to stay closed.

Whimer continues to stress that it is necessary to reopen Michigan slowly, step-by-step, as the virus remains a threat. 

Whitmer said she expects to lift more restrictions, moving the entire state to Phase 5 of her 'MI Safe Start' plan, before the Fourth of July. Earlier this week, she extended the State of Emergency until July 16, which allows her to retain her emergency powers. 

On Friday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said there were 211 new COVID-19 cases to report, bringing the total of confirmed cases in Michigan to 60,829.  It's the third straight day of at least 200 new cases. In addition, five more Michiganders died as a result of the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 5,823.