Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Allows Pro Sports to Return Without Fans

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Thursday allowing professional sports teams to return to the state "without a live audience."

Whitmer's decision comes after MLB announced this week that it will hold a 60-game season starting on July 23-24 in empty ballparks. Players will report to their home ballparks next week for spring training before the season opens.

"Good news, sports fans," Whitmer said in a statement, per MLive.com. "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."

Under the order, professional teams can train and compete as long as their activities comply with a safety plan that's consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services guidelines.

Games must be played without a live audience for the "time being," and only staff of the facility and media members can be present. Participants must stay six feet apart "to the extent compatible" with the sport.

The Pistons and Red Wings have not played since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, while the Tigers have yet to compete this season after MLB shut down spring training. 

Tigers general manager Al Avila told reporters Wednesday that one player and one staff member have tested positive for the coronavirus. He added that the player was living in Florida but was not working out at the team's spring training facility in Lakeland.