The Mort Harris Recreation and Fitness Center officially reopened on Sep. 10, marking the first time the center had opened its doors to the public since it closed on March 13.
On Sept. 3, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order which allowed pools and gyms to reopen in areas throughout Michigan. However, these gyms must follow stringent rules to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
“Masks are mandatory at all times while at the MHRFC,” Robert Latva sad in an email interview, associate athletics director for the MHRFC. “It will be enforced throughout the facility regardless of the activity. If a guest does not have a mask with them, the MHRFC can provide a disposable mask.”
The gym’s maximum capacity is 100 people, Latva said.
Along with mask requirements, gyms must also make sure there is six feet of space between people throughout the facilities, according to the executive order. Gyms must also provide cleaning products throughout the building.
"I urge everyone who plans to hit the gym after these orders go into effect to take these precautions seriously and do everything in their power to protect themselves and their families," Whitmer said in the order.
The MHRFC will also host outdoor events on the new turf field behind Tom Adams Field to minimize the amount of people using indoor equipment and machines, Latva said. Outdoor activities include badminton, volleyball, soccer, tennis and a few others. Students can also now register for intramural leagues.
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that airborne transmission from person-to-person over long distances is unlikely, the MHRFC is taking all precautions, Latva said.
"Doors at both ends of the building are open to allow more airflow,” he said. “We also have large fans to assist in airflow if needed. Our WSU engineers do a good job of maintaining our air systems.”
Sidney Seng, a junior political science major, attended the MHRFC at noon on Thursday and said he immediately noticed how operations had changed due to COVID-19.
"The first thing I noticed is that Wayne uses hand towels for people to use for wiping sweat and stuff, so it doesn't fall on equipment,” Seng said. “I did see most students and staff wiping down equipment before and after. Of course, I saw the occasional person not wearing a mask correctly, but that's pretty common regardless.”
There are areas that MHRFC could improve on when it comes to cleaning, Seng said.
"I definitely think Wayne could improve by having more employees doing more rounds of the building. Wiping down machines and stuff like that," he said.
Seng said he still intends on going to the gym, but not as frequently.
"I think I'll go back. I definitely won't be in there as long as I used to be. It'll be a quick 30-40-minute workout and then go back to my room to shower as soon as possible," he said.
The MHRFC will be open from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
“We have never had to be closed for six months straight without any in-person activity,” Latva said. “We hope to see a lot of WSU faces in the next few weeks while we welcome back the Warrior family.”
Irving Mejia-Hilario is sports editor for The South End. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover photo by Quinn Banks, multimedia editor for The South End. He can be reached at email@example.com.