The NFL and its players association are gearing up for another regular season in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
It won’t be as stressful of an NFL season as last year’s, but complete normalcy still may not be achieved.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to various COVID-19 protocols for the 2021 regular season.
Unvaccinated individuals (along with those partially vaccinated) must undergo daily testing and cannot enter their respective team facilities until learning of a negative test result. Vaccinated players and staff, however, will need to partake in weekly testing.
Those not vaccinated or partially vaccinated must test for COVID-19 on off days, too.
Pelissero additionally reports players who aren’t fully vaccinated won’t need to wear masks outdoors but must wear them indoors and in meetings. This is one of the ways the league is attempting to incentivize the COVID-19 vaccine.
Unvaccinated (or partially vaccinated) players can be deemed high-risk close contacts while fully vaccinated players cannot. However, the latter group may still need to undergo testing for five consecutive days if a close contact situation were to arise.
There are also multiple virus-related protocols for traveling, which include all players and staff, regardless of vaccination status, needing to wear masks. Plane trips must encompass assigned seating as well.
Also, all members of the traveling party — including those fully vaccinated — now must wear masks when traveling, including on planes and in buses. And clubs must assign seats on planes.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 31, 2021
Media members can interview players along with Tier 1 and 2 staff in postgame interview rooms as well as on the field. Those interviews, however, need to comply with physical distancing guidelines, per Pelissero.
Pelissero reported last week that the only type of media members allowed in the locker rooms during game days will be those affiliated with teams.
The NFL informed clubs today that effective immediately, locker room access while players are present on game day will be limited to 50 people — and no media unless they’re club-affiliated, per source.
No surprise, given current COVID situation, but a major impact on coverage.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 24, 2021
According to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com, NFL Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills recently stated nearly 93% of players were vaccinated and over 99% of staff were as well.