On September 3, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-176
(Safe Start Order) and Executive Order 2020-175
(Safeguards to Protect Michigan’s Workers from COVID-19 Order), rescinding Executive Orders 2020-160, 2020-161 and 2020-162. The revised Safe Start Order reopens Michigan’s gyms and pools, and allows for organized sports practices and competitions to resume in regions where they were previously restricted. All of these reopenings are subject to strict safety requirements contained in the Safeguards to Protect Michigan’s Workers from COVID-19 Order. Of note, the Safe Start Order also keeps in place the remote work requirements, specifically stating: “Remote work.
Except in Regions 6 and 8, any work capable of being performed remotely (i.e., without the worker leaving his or her home or place of residence) must be performed remotely. Although not required, in Regions 6 and 8, any work capable of being performed remotely should be performed remotely.”
Effective 12:01 a.m. on September 9, 2020, the Safe Start Order allows for indoor gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, sports facilities and exercise studios to reopen. These facilities must meet the requirements in the Safeguards to Protect Michigan’s Workers from COVID-19 Order:
- Use best efforts to provide opportunities for patrons to exercise outdoors.
- Maintain accurate records, including date and time of entry and exit, names of patrons, and contact information, to aid with contact tracing; and deny entry to any visitor who does not provide at a minimum their name and phone number.
- Mandate wearing of facial coverings at all times except when swimming.
- Limit capacity in the facility to 25% of the total occupancy limits established by the State Fire Marshal or a local fire marshal.
- Configure workout stations or implement protocols to enable six feet of distance between individuals during exercise sessions (or six feet of distance with barriers).
- Reduce class sizes, as necessary, to enable at least six feet of separation between individuals, and comply with relevant restrictions on social gatherings and organized events.
- Provide equipment-cleaning products throughout the facility for use on equipment.
- Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or similar disinfectant readily available.
- Regularly disinfect exercise equipment, including immediately after use. If patrons are expected to disinfect, post signs encouraging patrons to disinfect equipment.
- Ensure that ventilation systems operate properly.
- Increase introduction and circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, or other methods.
- Regularly clean and disinfect public areas, locker rooms, and restrooms.
- Close steam rooms, saunas, jacuzzis, and cold plunge pools.
- Post signs outside of entrances instructing individuals not to enter if they are or have recently been sick.
The Safeguards to Protect Michigan’s Workers from COVID-19 Order also provides specific requirements for pools, providing that swimming pools must:
- If they are outdoors, limit capacity to 50% of the bather capacity limits described in Rule 325.2193 of the Michigan Administrative Code.
- If they are indoors, limit capacity to 25% of the bather capacity limits described in Rule 325.2193 of the Michigan Administrative Code.
- Limit capacity on the pool deck to ensure that persons not part of the same household maintain six feet of distance from one another.
The Safe Start Order also permits organized sports competitions to resume effective 12:01 a.m. September 4, 2020. Organized sports includes “competitive athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and organized by an institution or association that sets and enforces rules to ensure the physical health and safety of all participants (‘sports organizer’ or ‘sports organizers’).” While on the field of play, athletes participating in an organized sport must maintain six feet of distance from one another to the extent compatible with that organized sport, and wear a facial covering except when swimming. Sports organizers shall ensure that athletes comply with these requirements for each organized sporting event. In addition, sports organizers should follow the guidance of the Department of Health and Human Services regarding whether and how a sport can be played safely. The DHHS Public Guidance for Contact Sports can be found here
For indoor organized sports competitions, sports organizers must ensure that the live audience is limited to the guests of the athletes with each athlete designating up to two guests. The sale of concessions is prohibited.
For outdoor organized sports competitions, sports organizers must ensure that either
- the live audience is limited to the guests of the participants with each athlete designating up to two guests; or
- the live audience is limited to the extent that 100 people or fewer are gathered for the event including all participants (athletes, coaches, staff, etc.).
Additional requirements for professional sports leagues are also included in the Safe Start Order. Moreover, the Safe Start Order allows for bowling alleys, roller rinks and ice rinks to open for the sole purpose of serving as a venue for organized sports, as defined above.
Other Safeguards Still in Place
Although the Safe Start Order rescinds the earlier Executive Orders regarding workplace safeguards, including Executive Orders 2020-91, 2020-97, 2020-114, 2020-145 and 2020-161, the Safe Start Order incorporates all of the earlier requirements for various industries, including safeguards for all businesses, outdoor work, construction, manufacturing, offices, restaurant and bars, health care, in-home services, public accommodations and others.
Warner has organized a cross-disciplinary legal team to help you navigate through the Safe Start Order. If you have any questions or concerns related to the Safe Start Order, the Safeguards to Protect Michigan’s Workers from COVID-19 Order, or any earlier Executive Order, please reach out to your Warner attorney, or Michael Brady
, Troy Cumings
, Amanda Fielder
, Matthew Johnson
or Linda Paullin-Hebden