NFL Increases COVID-19 Protocols Around Thanksgiving Games
(Marcel De Grijs/Dreamstime.com)
By Charles Kim | Wednesday, 17 November 2021 06:03 PM
The National Football League sent a memo to all teams Tuesday announcing that it was implementing stricter COVID-19 protocols around the Thanksgiving holiday, including mask mandates while indoors and regular testing.
''COVID-19 rates continue to steadily increase across the country. This upward trend, coupled with the onset of colder weather driving individuals indoors, has resulted in an increased risk of infection among players and staff,'' the Nov. 16 memo said in part.
''In light of this uptick in positive [COVID-19] tests throughout the country, and based on consultation with our experts, we are making the following changes to the protocols and are sharing additional best practices.''
According to the memo, the stricter protocols will include testing players, staff, family and friends during the Thanksgiving holiday before they interact.
The tests should be arranged for times separate from the testing regimen the team is using, installing or using video surveillance cameras in various club facilities, including weight rooms and cafeterias, to ensure indoor mask compliance.
Masks must be worn on buses and planes during team travel, and medical and special service staff must mask up when interacting with the players.
In addition, all unvaccinated players and staff are encouraged not to attend events in nightclubs and concerts where more than 10 people are attending, gather outside the club in groups of more than three, or attend house gatherings with more than 15 people, the memo said.
Masks are not required when practicing outside, or in the team ''bubbles,'' the memo said.
''Violations of these rules will result in discipline against the player or staff member engaged in the prohibited conduct and may result indiscipline against the club if it is found that the club failed to enforce these protocols,'' the memo states.
The league also offered in the memo to send personnel to the clubs to help oversee the new protocols and encouraged getting vaccinated as the ''strongest defense against transmission or infection from the virus.''
In July, the league sent a memo to all the teams announcing that it would not extend the 2021 season to accommodate a team that might have too many infections to play, and that such games would be forfeited.
''If a game cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule and is cancelled due to a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players on one of the competing teams, that club will forfeit the contest,'' the July memo said.