On the eve of the 2020 regular season schedule being released, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has issued a memo to teams that begins laying out the protocols for when facilities may be reopened and how they will continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to multiple reports. The memo highlights specific requirements that must be met for various facilities to open back up and includes rules for how to operate once they are up and running.
Here are some of the main criteria listed in the memo that is needed to reopen (via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe):
- Local and state government officials consent to reopening
- Club creates an Infection Response Team, which has a written plan for newly diagnosed cases
- Club designates an Infection Control Officer who will oversee all aspects of the implementation of the league's listed guidelines
- Each employee who returns to work at the facility must receive COVID-19 safety and hygiene training prior to coming back and agreeing to report health information to the ICO
This reopening plan does come in phases. Initially, the team can permit up to 50% of non-player employees (up to a total of 75 people). No players are allowed to use the facility during this phase "except those who are continuing a course of therapy or rehabilitation" that was already underway when the facilities closed back in March.
When facilities do open up, a screening protocol will be implemented and employees will be encouraged to stay six feet away from one another. They will also be required to wear masks unless they are alone in an enclosed office. They'll be asked to take their temperature at home and it will be taken again on-site with a no-touch thermometer each day upon arrival to work. Employees will also be asked these questions each day before entering the building:
- Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
- Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
- Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?
- Have you had new loss of taste or smell?
- Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?
The leagueback on March 25 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and team personnel have largely been at their respective homes. Players that are rehabbing an injury and receiving treatment have been one exception to the facility shutdown.
Along with the memo about protocols to reopen, Roger Goodell also sent a memo to teams discouraging them from any public comments on hypotheticals surrounding the 2020 regular season.
"It is impossible to project what the next few months will bring," said the memo. "Uninformed commentary that speculates on how individual clubs or the league will address a range of hypothetical contingencies serves no constructive purpose and instead confuses our fans and business partners, complicates the operations of other clubs, and distracts from the careful planning that is needed right now."
The NFL's full 16-game regular-season schedule for 2020 is set to be released by each club individually at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, with the league making a more complete announcement 30 minutes later on the NFL Network.