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Michigan governor signs executive order allowing professional sports to return

Sports are coming back to Michigan.

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NFL: NOV 28 Bears at Lions Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Thursday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed executive order 2020-133, which allows for the gradual opening of professional sports within the state—but without a live audience.

“Good news, sports fans,” Whitmer said via a news release. “We are now ready to gradually and safely allow professional sports to resume in Michigan. While this is an encouraging step in the reopening of our economy, it is critical for athletes to continue social distancing and taking precautions to stay safe. We want to keep our momentum going and keep moving forward, so it’s incumbent on everyone doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The executive order (read it in its entirety here) outlines three big limitations to the re-opening of sports in Michigan.

  1. No live audiences are allowed, except for staff of the facility at which a sporting event is held and media personnel reporting on, filming, or otherwise documenting the sporting event.
  2. The activities are conducted pursuant to a COVID-19 safety plan that is consistent with any guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. Participants maintain six feet of distance from one another to the extent compatible with the sporting activity.

It’s unclear how those limitations—especially that last one—will apply to the game of football. It’s obviously incompatible for football players to keep a six feet distance between each other, but the Detroit Lions are already taking measures to create extra space in locker rooms and other common areas.

But for now, welcome back sports to the state of Michigan.