There will be no league-wide or team-issued bubbles for the 2020 postseason, the NFL told its teams in a memo sent around the league on Tuesday. Specifically, teams may not require players and staff members to stay at a hotel during the postseason except for the night before a game, via the NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.
The NFL and NFLPA's medical experts agreed to forgo bubbles based on the COVID-19 testing data. In short, the NFL believes that their current protocols are working.
"This decision is based upon an analysis of the frequency of positive cases in the league compared to the risk of significant spread among players and staff gathered for an extensive period of time at one hotel," the statement said.
The league also announced new protocols that will be effective starting with Thursday night's game between the Raiders and Chargers. Starting this week, an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is cleared to return to interaction with the team and participate on game day will be permitted to play. This individual, however, will not be permitted to travel or interact with anyone on the team until his isolation period has ended. Additionally, any asymptomatic individual who tests positive for COVID-19 will not be permitted to return until 10 days have passed since receiving a positive test result, and after appropriate consultation, which includes a notification of NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills, determines that the individual may return.
The league's current daily testing and protocols will continue throughout the postseason for teams that qualify for the playoffs. Teams that do not quality for the postseason will continue to remain under the league's testing protocol for a week. After that, non-playoff teams will be free to employ their own protocols. Playoff teams will be required to use two aircrafts for travel to and from games. Players and staff members who are staying at a team-provided hotel in their local area will be required to wear a Kinexon device at all times until they return to their hotel each night.
As far as this year's Super Bowl is concerned, February 7 remains the date when the AFC and NFC champions will meet in Tampa. And while he hopes that a limited amount of fans will be allowed to attend the game, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said this week that the actual number of people who will be permitted to attend the game remains up in the air.
"We're going to try to bring as many fans as we can safely do into Raymond James Stadium, but we'll be working with the local officials on that," Goodell said on Monday, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. "I'm not sure there's a specific number that we are confident saying this is what it will be. But obviously our focus will be keeping them safe, whoever is there. ... We will not make projections about what the current environment will be 55 days from now."