Starting this Saturday, all NFL teams must operate under the league’s strict COVID – 19 protocol for the remainder of this season, according to a league memo sent to teams Wednesday afternoon and received by ESPN.
Of the 32 teams in the league this season 28 teams have already experienced at one point the requirements under strict protocol, including virtual team meetings and the wearing of masks by all players and staff at all times, including practice.
“It has been said many times that our 2020 season cannot be ‘normal’ because nothing about this year is normal,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo. “Flexibility and adaptability are key to our success today and we must continue that approach.”
The league said it had recently decided to impose stricter protocols across the country due to the spread of COVID-19 across the country and the data being collected throughout the year regarding close contacts.
This year all players and staff will be required to wear contact tracking devices during comfort and travel so that they can quickly identify a person’s close contacts who are testing the League and Union positives. From the 5th week onwards, the league says that teams that were on extreme protocol have seen a more than 50% reduction in close contact, both of which reduce the chances of spreading and make the communication path easier and more efficient.
At this point, teams are instructed to enter into serious protocols when someone in their building tests positive or has recently played against a team. The league’s memo states that at least once this year 28 teams were already in extreme protocol, and 16 of those teams were at least twice.
Details of the extreme protocols are as follows:
The requirement that all meetings be held in an approximate or very large indoor space, such space should be inspected and approved by the NFL and NFLBA.
Get food service at group restaurants.
Limited time in locker rooms – less than 15 minutes per person per session, sessions are planned to reduce the number of people in the locker room at one time.
Masks or league-recognized Oakley helmet face shields at all times, including in the training field.
During medical treatment for the patient and the provider “dual PPE” – that is, a player receiving treatment for an injury must wear both a mask and a face mask during that treatment, so the treating physician or practitioner is essential.
Limit of 10 players and five coaches at any given time in the weight room, regardless of room size.
“If we continue the season, we will have to take extra steps to address the broader conditions,” the memo says. “Together with our medical consultants and the NFLPA, we will continue to integrate our experience and implement improvements to the protocols, and communicate with each of you on a regular basis.”