Confusion surrounds reopening of Michigan’s Adventure

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — After welcoming guests back to its water park a few weeks ago, Michigan’s Adventure may be forced to shut down again. 

This comes as the Muskegon County Health Department works to determine if the park is violating the governor’s most recent executive order by remaining open.

The water park opened in mid-July. Its plan included increased screenings and limited guests. The park is only open Thursday through Sunday. 

“Michigan’s Adventure reached out to public health and shared their plan to open on a limited basis and that plan was reviewed and approved,” County Health Officer Kathy Moore said. 

Moore says after receiving new guidance from the state, the health department believes the amusement park should shut back down. 

Executive order 2020-160, issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week, mentions large gatherings that are spreading the virus throughout Michigan. In the order, the state clarifies the places that should remain closed as it works to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

It included places like amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, water parks and other similar recreational or entertainment facilities. The order included both outdoor and indoor facilities. The state says these public spaces must remained closed to entry, use or occupancy. 

Despite the order, Michigan’s Adventure says it’s are open for business.

The county health department says it believes the amusement park was given conflicting guidance from the state on whether it’s exempt from the order to remain open. The health department has since reached out to the governor’s office for further clarification. 

“It was our interpretation that it did apply, and Michigan’s Adventure should comply, but it’s not our rule,” Moore said.

News 8 reached out to the spokesperson at Michigan’s Adventure, but they were not available Monday. A staff member on campus told News 8 crews the state has not asked them to close and it plans to open as normal on Thursday.

A representative from the governor’s office sent the following statement:

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic with a virus that spreads in crowded places. Amusement parks that allow large numbers of people to congregate, including water slide parks, are precisely the kind of environment that could facilitate spread. If we want our schools to open, we’ve got to make tough choices about limiting our contacts.

“Amusement parks have long been closed across most of the state, including in the Grand Rapids region. Water parks chose to read the governor’s prior orders, however, not to apply to its activities. This latest executive order clarified what should have been clear all along: their doors must remain shut for the time being to protect the public health of Michiganders.”

The county health department says it’s still awaiting clarification from the state on how the order should be interpreted. They say if the state confirm outdoor water parks are not allowed to be open, Michigan’s Adventure will be forced to shut down operations immediately. 

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