Whitmer extends gym, bar closures, dine-in ban

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Places like gyms and restaurant dining rooms will have to remain dark a little longer after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday extended the executive order closing them through May 28.

“It’s definitely different,” said Rick King, the owner of Fitness 19 in Grand Rapids. “The weirdest thing is probably seeing the lights off in here. We’re a 24-hour gym, so the lights don’t get shut off very often. Definitely a different feeling with the gym being empty than usual.”

Gyms are just one of the many businesses still restricted from opening, part of widespread measures meant to slow the spread of coronavirus. Also closed: theaters, libraries and museums, and salons, among other things.

The closures have created uncertainty but at the same time optimism.

“It’s not going to be an easy road to recovery for us. It’s not going to be very fun, but that’s what the gym is about, right? It’s about overcoming adversity and being tough and resilient,” King said. “So we’re going to do whatever it takes when they do lift that mandate and we’re able to get back in business.”

Bars and restaurant dining rooms also remain closed, though restaurants can still offer takeout.

>>LIST: Restaurants open for takeout, delivery during dine-ban

“I didn’t like it,” Steve Termeer, the owner of Southside Restaurant in Ionia. “But I’d rather get it right the first time when we reopen than do this waffling back and forth that could happen if it doesn’t work out the first time, then they’re going to shut us down again. I can’t do that. And I’d rather get it right.”

There are no guarantees in the food industry. When you’re dealing with a dependence on daily customers and food supplies, the bottom line can be a little more troubling.

“If you go even to 25% occupancy, but I have 100% of my overhead — those are the things that concern me,” he said.

Even once he’s allowed to reopen, he expects to continue waiting for a population that slowly readjusts to normalcy.

“It will probably be a bit of a hurdle for us to get new members to get new members to come into the gym to get comfortable in this atmosphere,” King said. “But that’s part of the process and I think for us, staying in business for this community is the overall goal. And while the difficulty of getting people in here might be a hurdle we have to overcome, we’ll do whatever it takes.”

Inside Fitness 19 in Grand Rapids, which is closed because of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders. (May 1, 2020)

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