NFL COVID Rules: What To Know About Pro Football and the Pandemic in 2020

by Jacklyn Krol
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The NFL is not in a bubble, find out how they are handling the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Testing in the NFL

The National Football League tests the players on a regular basis. The week of August 21-29 saw four positive tests from players and six positive tests among staff. In total, they administered 58,621 tests during that time. In total, 23,279 tests were for the 2,747 players while 35,342 tests were administered to 5,992 members of the staff and personnel.

Because of the pandemic, the league created a COVID-19 Reserve. If a player is put on the reserve, it does not necessarily mean that he has the virus. Players who came in close contact with those who are infected are also put on that list. The teams nor players do not have to disclose to the public if they tested positive.

What Happens When a Positive Test Arises?

There are numerous strict protocols in place if a person tests positive or if a person comes in close contact with someone who has. To return to the league, there are a few stipulations that every worker or player needs to follow. They need to get a second negative test with 24 hours of the initial negative test to return. They will also be subject to increased symptom monitoring, eight days of COVID-19 testing, and regular testing after the initial eight days. The NFL uses BioReference Labs, the same medical facility that conducts the NBA’s testing.

Due to the unforeseen nature of the pandemic, practice squad rosters now hold 16 players with 6 veterans. Those practice squad players that move up due to a potential case do not have to sign an active player contract. They will automatically revert back to their practice status after the game.

Other Protocols

All personnel are required to undergo daily symptom screenings with temperature checks. Additionally, no guests are allowed into the stadiums during practices or games. However, crowd noise will still be played over the sound system.

The NFL sent out a memo regarding new procedures, according to USA Today. Personnel can not attend an indoor night club or indoor bar with more than ten people and without wearing a mask.

Staff and players can not attend any indoor music or entertainment events or house gatherings with more than fifteen people. Additionally, they can not attend any other sporting events other than their own games without wearing a mask or sitting in a protected area. Finally, they can not attend any event that violates local or state restrictions.

Personnel also have to wear a face mask at all times on the sideline. Three NFL head coaches broke that rule and were fined over a million dollars.

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