With obligatory minicamps wrapping up across the NFL, the league and the NFL Players Association have agreed on COVID-19 protocols for training camps and preseason games, according to an NFL memo obtained by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Wednesday. The most crucial protocol is how the pre-season will alter for fully vaccinated players versus those who have not.
Individuals who are fully vaccinated will not need to get tested daily, but those who are not fully vaccinated will need to get examined every day. Face coverings will be required the same way, with none necessary if fully vaccinated. It is still necessary at club facilities and team travel if not.
One significant difference is that vaccinated players are permitted to enter high-risk areas like pubs and nightclubs. In contrast, unvaccinated players are not, and if caught in one, they face a fine of up to $50,000. The NFL chose not to make vaccines necessary for players earlier this year, and several high-profile players have stated in recent weeks that they have yet to obtain one. While such players will still be permitted to participate in practices and games, the letter lays out a set of guidelines that will effectively split each organization into two teams.
As per the memo, any player who has not been wholly vaccinated would be subject to the following penalties:
- Daily testing, wearing masks even at the team facilities, with physical distancing.
- A quarantine if he has a high risk of exposure to someone with COVID-19 symptoms.
- Significant restrictions while traveling, including required isolation in the team hotel and relegation to a separate team plane
- Prohibition of meals with teammates
- Sponsorship activities in the social, media, and marketing sectors are prohibited.
- A ban on groups of more than three players congregating outside of the team’s facility.
- When visiting a nightclub or indoor bar with more than ten people, it is necessary to wear personal protective equipment.
- Indoor concerts and other forms of entertainment are prohibited.
- The five-day delay between reporting and participating fully in activities in the training camp.
- Vaccinated players will face no restrictions. However, they will be required to get tested once every 14 days.
According to the memo, teams must keep spectators at least 20 feet away from players and critical staff members during training camp. No autographs or photos will be permitted. However, fully vaccinated media will have access to physically separated in-person interviews. Still, the postgame locker area entrance will be limited to the team and NFL media or NFL Films.
Several athletes have raised reservations about getting the vaccine. However, they’ll be more motivated to obtain it now that the protocols have been changed. In addition, players can be penalized up to $50,000 if they break the rules.