GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A federal judge in Grand Rapids has ruled that gyms don’t have to follow Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order to stay closed and may reopen June 25. The governor will appeal.
The ruling from Judge Paul Maloney issued Friday says that the state’s attorneys did not put forth scientific data to back up their assertion that gyms are still a hotbed for coronavirus transmission.
During oral arguments Wednesday, “counsel could not articulate a reason beyond the bare assertion that gyms are dangerous,” the 17-page ruling reads in part. “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.'”
Maloney said that wasn’t good enough, especially since many other types of businesses — notably those with physical contact like barber shops and tattoo parlors — have been allowed to open.
He granted a request for an injunction from 20 gym companies and the League of Independent Fitness Facilities and Trainers Inc. trade organization.
The ruling also notes that when they reopen, the gyms must follow safety requirements for workplaces that the state has outlined.
In a statement released to News 8 Friday evening, Whitmer’s office said she “respectfully, but strongly, disagrees with this decision” and that she would be appealing to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“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 statement continues. “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.”
The argument that if it’s safe enough for salons to reopen, it’s safe enough for gyms is the same one a Kentwood gym owner made when speaking to News 8 earlier this week. He reopened Monday in defiance of the governor’s order and said he immediately saw an increase in membership.
But the Kent County Health Department has ranked gyms as high risk for spreading the virus. COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets. Because working out increases the frequency and intensity of your breathing, the potential for spreading the virus is increased.