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Whitmer lifts ban on overnight camps, school-related sports

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that overnight camps and school-related sports activities can resume on Monday, in the latest coronavirus restrictions to be lifted as the state economy reopens.

The governor’s order says the residential camps can open subject to guidance from the state’s licensing department. Summer day camps were able to start opening earlier this week.

All camps are strongly recommended to keep campers in groups of 10 or fewer. The guidelines encourage physical distancing but also acknowledge it is “very challenging” in camp settings.

Camps should establish policies for when masks must be worn. The memo recommends that staff wear face coverings but notes that many children will not reliably wear them and that requiring masks may result in increased touching of the face, defeating the purpose. Overnight camps must keep beds at least 6 feet apart.

Whitmer also relaxed the closure of schools to allow outdoor K-12 sports and other in-person extracurricular activities to restart, though participants must remain at least 6 feet apart at all times and indoor gyms and recreation centers remain closed.

“As we’ve worked together to bend the curve and protect our families from COVID-19, our kids have lost time in the classroom and missed out on play dates, birthday parties and graduations,” Whitmer said. “That’s why I’m glad they’ll have an opportunity to spend a week or weekend away at camp.”

Monday also is when hair salons and other personal care businesses can reopen.

The Democratic governor has faced criticism from Republican lawmakers over the length of her stay-at-home and other restrictions in a state with the sixth-most number of reported COVID-19 deaths. This week, she touted a British study showing few states dropped their infection rate as low for as long as Michigan did.

The state’s seven-day average of deaths is 20, well below the peak of 145 from mid-April.

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