Approximately two years ago, the National Basketball Association drove home the seriousness of the impending pandemic when it suspended its season following Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for the coronavirus and Utah’s game with Oklahoma City being postponed.
Today, the National Football League has decided that the pandemic is basically over, and the NFL and the NFL Players Association have agreed to suspend all of the health and safety COVID-19 protocols that have been in place for nearly two years, effective immediately.
“Based on current encouraging trends regarding the prevalence and severity of COVID-19, the evolving guidance from the CDC, changes to state law and the counsel of our respective experts, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to suspend all aspects of the joint COVID-19 Protocols,” according to a league memo. “We will continue to prioritize the health and safety of players, coaches and staff, as we have throughout the pandemic.”
Though there will be no more league-mandated requirements for face masks, tracking devices or capacity limits in meetings, teams must remain “in compliance with state and local law and are free to continue reasonable measures to protect their staff and players.” On an individual level, players, coaches and other team personnel “must continue to monitor themselves for symptoms on a daily basis prior to entering the club facility.”
Anyone who displays symptoms of COVID-19 will need a negative test to return to their team club facility and a positive test will now result in an individual having to isolate for five days. With the majority of the league vaccinated and case rates dropping across the U.S., expect those positive tests to be few and far between.
“Should there be a reason to reimpose aspects of the protocols or to take other measures, we will work closely with clubs, the NFLPA and our respective experts, and local, state and federal public health officials to continue to safeguard the health of the NFL community,” the memo states.
Fingers crossed that never becomes necessary.