The NFL and the players’ union sent a planner to the 32 teams Monday outlining procedures for the full reopening of their practice facilities, which were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a lengthy four-part memo to the clubs written by Commissioner Roger Goodell and accepted by the NFL Players Association, the league described protocols focusing on screening, testing, and infection prevention and treatment for COVID-19, including response for new infections. Also included were instructions on proper facility access, cleaning and disinfecting; physical distancing; hygiene, health education and medical services; food preparation; supplies; and team travel.
No timetable has been set for the return of most players to team complexes — only players rehabilitating injuries have been allowed to enter the buildings. But this is the next major step toward allowing all players back in club facilities.
Goodell ordered all facilities closed in late March, and the league has taken small steps toward reopening them.
Last week, coaching staffs were approved to return, but only if local governmental rules allowed it.
Goodell noted that the protocols for a full return were developed in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Duke’s Infection Control Network and other universities.
Training camps are programmed to start in late July, with the first preseason game, Dallas vs. Pittsburgh in the Hall of Fame game, on Aug. 6. The NFL still plans to kick off the regular season in Kansas City on Sept. 10.
Among taboos in the protocols is sharing drink bottles and towels, and buffet-style meals.
“Clubs will be required to certify that they have made the arrangements necessary to meet their obligations under these protocols,” Goodell wrote, “and, in certain instances, to provide the details of those arrangements to be reviewed and confirmed by the jointly retained infectious disease experts at (Duke).”
Goodell promised more information and protocols relating to testing and treatment of anyone who tests positive or show symptoms of the coronavirus.