A federal judge on Monday denied a request from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state attorneys asking the judge to delay the reopening of gyms and fitness centers.
They’re currently slated to reopen to the public on Thursday, June 25.
U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney on Friday struck down portions of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders, including a blanket ban on the reopening of gyms and workout facilities statewide.
“This court must uphold the governor’s executive orders as long as they are supported by some relation to the public health,” Maloney’s opinion said. “Unfortunately … the court has not been presented with any evidence that shows a rational relation between the continued closure of indoor gyms and the preservation of public health.”
Shortly after Maloney’s ruling, Assistant Attorney General John G. Fedynsky filed a request asking the judge to halt his order allowing gyms and fitness centers to reopen until after the appeals process had run its course.
Fedynsky wrote in a 20-page brief supporting the request for a stay that the judge’s order “is premised on a heightened form of rational basis review that is not rooted in the law,” and “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.”
If the ruling isn’t delayed, “it will present irreparable harm to (the state) and not serve the public interest,” he wrote. “It introduces the likelihood of an unworkable patchwork of judicial and regional carveouts to a general public health response to a pandemic involving a novel virus, which will likely lead to unintended consequences and erosion of the common plan to fight the spread of the virus, creating the substantial risk of a second wave.”
Maloney said gyms will be required to follow existing safety precautions Whitmer has established for the reopening of other businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said Friday.
Maloney, in his denial of the request, said Whitmer and her administration has already created the system of “carve-outs.”
” … Gyms are open in parts of the state but not others, and most other industries have had their own ‘reopening’ dates, staggered
throughout the months of May and June,” Maloney wrote. “The court is not persuaded that the issuance of an injunction adds any unwarranted ‘carve-outs’ to the … pandemic response, nor is it persuaded that the injunction harms the public interest.”
Whitmer hadn’t previously established a date for gyms and fitness centers to reopen.
Rochester-based attorney Scott Erskine on May 22 filed the lawsuit on behalf of organizations and owners representing nearly 180 Michigan gyms.
The complaint argued gyms have been arbitrarily forced to remain closed without the presentation of any scientific data supporting the governor’s orders.
Erskine said his clients, the League of Independent Fitness Facilities and Trainers and several other fitness facilities in the state, are “relieved” by the judge’s ruling, as “many were on the verge of insolvency.”
The ruling allowing gyms to reopen has been appealed to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Brief in support of delaying the reopening of gyms:
COVID-19 PREVENTION TIPS
In addition to washing hands regularly and not touching your face, officials recommend practicing social distancing, assuming anyone may be carrying the virus.
Health officials say you should be staying at least 6 feet away from others and working from home, if possible.
Use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray cleaners on frequently-touched surfaces in your home (door handles, faucets, countertops) and carry hand sanitizer with you when you go into places like stores.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also issued an executive order requiring people to wear face coverings over their mouth and nose while inside enclosed, public spaces.
Additional information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.
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