As the NFL gears up for players to return to team facilities, Commissioner Roger Goodell issued protocols to clubs detailed in a Monday memo obtained by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The protocols for players’ return to club facilities are broken down into access, physical distancing, facility and equipment cleaning and disinfectant, food service, personal protective equipment and hygiene, compliance with protocols and education on the spread and prevention of infection.
Pelissero reported that while no dates have been set yet and no minicamps are expected, the NFL and NFLPA are discussing the possibility of certain players — such as rookies and veterans who changed teams and need physicals — returning to club facilities on a limited basis before June 26, per sources informed of the situation.
The protocols for return include cleaning, protective and other guidance to ensure the safety of players returning. Each team is required to certify they’ve met the guidelines and submit a copy of their infections disease plan.
All players and staff must wear masks at all times in the facility (unless a mask cannot be worn due to interference with the performance of athletic activities). Surgical masks must be replaced daily or more frequently if visibly soiled. Cloth masks must be laundered daily or staff and players must be provided with a sufficient supply of cloth masks so that they may rotate masks every three days. Teams are responsible for obtaining an adequate supply of surgical and cloth masks for players.
Teams must restrict areas used by players and staffs, including practice and stadium playing fields and sidelines, locker rooms, athletic training rooms and medical exam areas, player meal and meeting rooms, player lounge areas and weight rooms.
Clubs must break personnel into three tiers for access to certain areas of the facility. Tier 1 consists of players, coaches, athletic trainers, team physicians, head strength and conditioning coaches and head equipment managers. Tier 2 consists of non-playing personnel who are required to be in close contact with players and coaches but are able to reasonably maintain physical distance — these people include GMs, PR staffs, operations personnel, etc. Tier 3 individuals consist of essential facility, stadium or event staff who do not require close contact with players.
Among the social distancing requirements, teams must establish protocols to allow players and staff to maintain six feet of distance from one another when at the facility. Teams must also reconfigure locker rooms to permit six feet of space where possible, by using every other locker or adding additional lockers.
Strength and conditioning workouts must be limited to no more than 15 players. Athletic training staffs must stagger player appointments.
Helmets, shoulder pads and other equipment must be disinfected after each practice or game. Every individual entering the facility must clean and disinfect his or her cellphones, keys, and any other frequently-touched objects being carried. Individuals must not share any personal items (including clothing).
Team meetings must be conducted virtually when possible, and if in-person meetings are required clubs should attempt to hold them outdoors with proper social distancing. In-person meetings that do not permit physical distancing are prohibited and communal use of materials, devices, or supplies during meetings is also barred.
The league will provide further information and protocols on testing and treatment of those who test positive or show symptoms of the virus. Team travel and other matters will also be addressed at a later date.