The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to suspend all COVID-19 protocols and testing, effective immediately. In a memo sent to all 32 teams on Thursday, the league announced it arrived at the decision with the NFLPA “based on current encouraging trends regarding the prevalence and severity of COVID-19” as well as “evolving guidance from the CDC” and its own experts. The memo said: “We will continue to prioritize the health and safety of players, coaches and staff, as we have throughout the pandemic.” However, the league also noted teams must comply with local and state laws, and it could reimpose protocols if necessary.
The suspension of COVID-19 protocols brings a few changes for NFL players and staff members: (1) the NFL has eliminated mandatory surveillance testing for players and staff, regardless of vaccination status. Testing will only take place when “clinically indicated or at the direction of the club physician.” (2) Players and staff don’t have to wear Kinexon devices, which were used in order to monitor the physical distances of interactions. The devices helped enforce social distancing and allowed for easier contact tracing. (3) The use of masks in team facilities is not mandatory for players and staff, regardless of vaccination status. Teams can enforce mask policies “if they elect to do so.” Additionally, teams are no longer required to “maintain signage concerning physical distancing and mask wearing,” and they no longer have to place restrictions on facility access or follow previous weight room capacity limits.
Individuals are still asked to monitor themselves for symptoms daily. Anybody experiencing COVID-19 symptoms must report them to the club and test negative before entering the team facility, according to the memo. Any individual who tests positive must isolate for five days after his or her test.
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