On June 19, U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Maloney ruled in favor of allowing gyms in Michigan to reopen, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appealed the ruling, saying that it was too dangerous and could cause a potential risk of spreading the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, according to Michigan Live.
Whitmer’s lawyers said that allowing gyms to reopen despite the governor’s orders to keep them closed could lead to results that counter the fight against the virus, reported the Detroit Free Press.
“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 high sensible,” the lawyers said.
During the ruling on Wednesday, the three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals—consisting of Michael P. Biggsons, Deborah L. Cook, and Chad A. Readler—reversed Maloney’s June 19 ruling.
“Today three Republican-appointed judges got it right: in the fight against a global pandemic, courts must give governors broad latitude to make quick, difficult decisions. The governor will continue to take the actions necessary to save lives,” Whitmer said of the ruling.
The court also wrote in a statement, “We sympathize deeply with the business owners and their patrons affected by the governor’s order. Crises like COVID-19 can call or quick, decisive measures to save lives. Yet those measures can have extreme costs—costs that often are not borne evenly.”
The judges who ruled in favor of Whitmer’s appeal acknowledged that this might put the owners at risk of losing their businesses, but said that Whitmer’s interest in battling the virus was equally as significant, if not more.
“To date, the disease has infected thousands of Michiganders, and it has shown the potential to infect many more. That the public interest weight in favor of a stay is apparently for the same reason,” the judges said, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Furthermore, ruling on Wednesday said that “the decision to impose those costs rests in the political branches of government,” and in this case, the governmental body imposing these decisions would fall on Whitmer’s hands. Therefore, the court ruled in favor of Whitmer for the emergency stay, according to the Detroit News.
This ruling wasn’t without criticism, as the attorney representing gyms in Michigan called the ruling “nothing but an arbitrary and irrational patchwork of regional carve-outs,” and stated that any further delay in reopening the gyms could be damaging to the business owners, as they have been closed now for 14 weeks, the news outlet reported.
Furthermore, Maloney stated that he made the ruling because “the court has not been presented with any evidence that shows a rational relation between the continued closure of indoor gyms and the preservation of public health.”