More than a month after the NFL shut down all team facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league has outlined a plan that would allow clubs to reopen their facilities.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a memo to all 32 organizations on Friday that outlined what each team must do to meet the league’s protocols. Once an NFL team meets each of the league’s requirements, it can reopen on May 19.
NFL’s plan for reopening team facilities
Not every team will be allowed to immediately reopen their facility on May 19. In order to even come under consideration, the team must be permitted to reopen their building under state and local regulations. Furthermore, the club must be in compliance with any public health requirements within its jurisdiction and have safety protocols in place that are approved by medical experts.
Once the team meets those criteria, they must take part in a scheduled training program with Dr. Allen Sills, who is serving as the league’s chief medical officer. In order to open, each team must have its infection control officers attend Sills’ required training program and complete it.
Once an NFL team completes each of those steps, the league will allow it to reopen its facilities. However, there will still be limitations under the league’s phases of reopening.
First phase of NFL’s reopening
In the memo released to each team on Friday, Goodell outlined each of the protocols that will be in place for every NFL organization once they reopen their facility.
- Teams can have no more than 50% of staff in the facility at the same time, never exceeding more than 75 persons occupying the structure. If a team has multiple locations, each facility must follow the safety and health protocols and will count toward the combined number of 75 employees allowed.
- Until all 32 teams are allowed to reopen their building, no members of the coaching staff can return to the facility. Teams can designate members of the medical staff, nutritionists, football operations staff and other personnel to return, but coaches aren’t allowed to enter the building.
- Players are not allowed at the facility unless they are undergoing treatment with the medical staff or going through rehabilitation for an injury.
- Any incidence of COVID-19 in a team’s facility must be reported immediately to Dr. Sills, the team’s ICO and any other required reports.
- If a government changes its regulations within the state or city, the team must contact the NFL immediately.
The NFL is understandably taking a cautious approach during the COVID-19 pandemic, while also balancing a desire for equality. By putting these policies in place, no team will have an advantage over another just because their state lifted stay-at-home restrictions first.
The league remains confident that the upcoming NFL season will start on time. As long as the pandemic doesn’t get worse and teams follow the guidelines, it looks promising that football will return on schedule.