An organization representing more than 120 Michigan gyms has filed a lawsuit against the state to protest continued closures from the coronavirus pandemic.
The lawsuit, filed Friday by the League of Independent Fitness Facilities and Trainers, names Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Robert Gordon, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. It alleges that the executive orders shutting down gyms are “broad and overreaching” and “not narrowly tailored to their purpose, as required under constitutional law,” according to a statement from LIFFT.
“To date, the Governor has not responded to at least three letters sent by the industry that outlined very specific measures that will allow gyms to reopen safely,” Scott Erskine, lead attorney in the case, said in a statement. “My clients have stressed that they know how to open safely, and are committed to doing so. It is nonsensical that an industry that is in such a unique position to bolster the physical and emotional health of Michiganders remains completely closed, while many other sectors (including restaurants and bars) are permitted to open.”
Gyms and other exercise facilities are currently not explicitly included in Whitmer’s MI Safe Start plan, which details how and when different industries can open. The fitness industry has been closed since the first executive order that included restaurants and bars, LIFFT said.
Erskine said there is “no data or science” that justifies keeping the fitness industry closed, especially since it “helps people suffering from stress, isolation, depression and anxiety.” He said that most anecdotal evidence cited to keep gyms closed involves people breathing heavier and sweating.
“If all industries where breathing hard and sweating are shut down indefinitely, then singing, dancing, cheering on your favorite sports team (even in a bar), and loud talking must also be banned across the state,” Erskine said.
Erskine also cited concerns about deaths of despair, as well as Constitutional rights.
“My clients are not Republicans or Democrats, they are people who have dedicated their lives to helping their members combat the same exact problems that Michiganders are facing in spades during this pandemic,” Erskine said. “Not one of my clients are saying that they should return to business as usual. My clients know that gyms can re-open as safely as any other business, with very narrowly tailored measures in place.”
Whitmer announced last week that auto dealerships and retail businesses were able to open on Tuesday by appointment. She also lifted restrictions on nonessential medical, dental and veterinary procedures.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]