NFL agrees to end protocols against Covid-19

Teams are still required to comply with any state and local public health regulations.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association have removed all COVID-19 protocols effective immediately, putting on hold two years of largely successful efforts to play during the pandemic.

The teams received a memorandum on Thursday morning detailing the decision, which was “based on current encouraging trends in prevalence and severity” of the coronavirus.

Many of the more severe protocols from the league had been lifted at the end of the 2021 season, including mandatory testing for asymptomatic players and staff, requirements to carry contact-tracing devices and distancing limitations in weight rooms and cafeterias.

NFL will return to normal

At this point, with the season over, there is no activity at the club facilities, and the soonest it can start is the April 4 for teams that have hired new coaches.

However, the change will still affect coaches and other staff members who attend this week’s scouting rally at Indianapolis or who work all year round in local markets. Those employees will no longer have to undergo surveillance testing, regardless of their vaccination status, nor to mask requirements.

Teams may choose to impose their own mask policies if they wishand the memorandum leaves open the possibility of returning to a protocol level if circumstances warrant.

“If there was a reason to reimpose aspects of the protocols or to take other measures,” The memo states, “We will work closely with the 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.”

Teams are still required to comply with any regulations of state and local public health.

The pandemic forced the NFL to cancel preseason workouts and the 2020 regular season, but has since played every game of the regular season and playoffs, with a total of eight games rescheduled. The full schedule included an expanded postseason in 2020 and the regular season in 2021.

In some cases, the work of the NFL on COVID-19 informed the decisions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health institutions.

The NFL ended the 2021 season with vaccination rates of 95% for players and nearly 100% for other football staff. There were four known hospitalizations among players, coaches and on-field officials for COVID-19 between the start of training camp in 2020 and the end of the 2021 season.

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NFL agrees to end protocols against Covid-19