Michigan’s Adventure claims water park is a pool and remains open despite shutdown order
MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – Michigan’s Adventure Water Park remains open for a week after the governor’s order to close because officials say it is a swimming pool, according to the local health director.
It has been more than a week since Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an order specifically designating water parks as operations that must close due to the spread of COVID-19. Since then, the WildWater Adventure water park north of Muskegon has continued to operate.
A spokesperson for Michigan’s Adventure reiterated to MLive on Friday, August 7 that the WildWater Adventure park had not closed because “we weren’t asked.” Meanwhile, Whitmer’s spokesperson told MLive the park should “remain closed.” It has been open since July 13.
A health inspector who was on site called for the park to close, but park officials “disputed that,” Muskegon County public health director Kathy Moore told MLive.
Michigan’s Adventure sent Moore an email claiming it was operating as an outdoor pool, not a water park, and therefore was not subject to closure. According to the public health code, water parks are considered in the same category as swimming pools, the email said, parts of which Moore shared with MLive.
Because of this claim, the health department continues to seek clarification on Whitmer’s order, Moore said. This order was issued on July 29 and took effect on July 31.
When MLive asked if WildWater Park was included in the Governor’s Order, Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown reiterated that “the water park gates must remain closed.”
“We are in the midst of a pandemic with a virus spreading through crowded places,” Brown said in a written statement identical to the one she sent when MLive inquired about the Michigan adventure on July 31. “Amusement parks that allow large numbers of people to congregate, including water slide parks, are precisely the type of environment that could facilitate the spread. If we want our schools to open, we have to make tough choices to limit our contacts. “
Whitmer’s order was issued after the water parks decided they were not part of a previous order to close amusement parks, the statement from Brown said. Michigan’s Adventure has not reopened its traditional carnival-style amusement park. Reservations must be made to use the water park, which is only open from Thursday to Sunday.
“Amusement parks have long been closed across much of the state, including the Grand Rapids area,” Brown told MLive. “Waterparks chose to read the Governor’s prior orders, however, not to apply to (their) activities. This latest decree clarified what should have been clear from the start: Their doors must remain closed for the time being to protect the public health of the Michiganders.
Whitmer’s Order includes “water parks” in a list of indoor and outdoor facilities that must be “closed to entry”. Other such facilities include amusement parks, bingo halls and bowling alleys. Outdoor swimming pools are authorized to operate at 50% of their capacity, under the same executive decree.
On its website, Michigan’s Adventure describes WildWater Adventure as “The best of water parks.” It has several wave pools, large water slides, a ‘river’ for floating around and a children’s water play area.
“We’re going to stay open, and we weren’t asked to close,” Michigan’s Adventure spokesperson Laure Bollenbach replied when MLive asked why WildWater was still open. She got the exact same answer when asked the same question on July 31.
Moore told MLive she sought advice from her contact with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, who told her the Attorney General’s office confirmed that WildWater was to be shut down under the executive order. However, Moore said he was told the attorney general’s office would confirm this with the governor’s legal advisor.
It was Tuesday, August 4, and Moore said on Friday she had yet to receive a response.
“I still haven’t been able to confirm whether this executive order applies to them or not,” Moore said of WildWater. “Because it is a state order, I leave it to the state to interpret it.”
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