DETROIT — A federal judge threw down the yoga mat Friday and said gyms and fitness centers can reopen this week after finding that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration had failed to show any rational link between the coronavirus threat and the shutdown.
U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney in Kalamazoo noted that gyms are closed in much of Michigan while restaurants, bars, barbershops and hair salons are back in business.
The Whitmer administration “cannot rely on the categorization of gyms as ‘dangerous,’ without a single supporting fact, to uphold their continued closure,” Maloney said. “This is particularly true when almost all other indoor businesses have been opened, and indoor gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted — so long as they are not inside a gym.”
Michigan has made substantial progress in controlling the pandemic, he said, “in great part” because of the governor’s policies. But Maloney said the gym restrictions don’t seem justified at this point.
The state has “presented nothing beyond ‘trust us, they’re still dangerous,'” the judge said.
Gyms can reopen at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Maloney said.
The governor plans to appeal the decision, said spokeswoman Tiffany Brown.
“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,” Brown said.
Whitmer had planned to reopen gyms, movie theaters and bowling alleys by July 4 if coronavirus case trends remain favorable.
In less-populous northern Michigan, gyms and fitness centers got the green light June 10 if they reduced class sizes and made other changes.