NFL Intensifying COVID Protocols Around Thanksgiving A detail of Covid-19 related signage prior to the game between the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Jason Miller/Getty)
By Charlie McCarthy | Wednesday, 17 November 2021 04:48 PM
The NFL will intensify its COVID-19 protocols for players and team staff ahead of its Thanksgiving Day games.
A memo issued to teams on Tuesday night said changes will include mandatory testing for all players and staff the Monday and Wednesday after the holiday, and mandatory mask-wearing for all players and staff while inside club facilities from Nov. 25 through Dec. 1, ESPN reported Wednesday.
With COVID cases rising in certain parts of the U.S. due to the Delta variant – including the upper Midwest, Southwest and parts of the Northeast – the NFL seems especially concerned about Thanksgiving.
"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 memo said, according to The Hill.
"Our experts and data confirm that getting vaccinated remains our strongest defense against contracting and transmission of the virus within club facilities."
The memo said NFL teams "are strongly encouraged to offer drive-through testing" for friends and family of staff and players who will be staying or visiting with them for the holiday, ESPN said. "Such testing should be conducted before friends and family interact with players and staff."
The league also will also establish new requirements for surveillance cameras in team facilities for the purpose of enforcing COVID-19 protocols, said ESPN, which obtained a copy of the memo.
The memo said the league has been "periodically reviewing footage from surveillance cameras in club facilities to ensure Protocol compliance. Discipline has been issued against individual players and clubs as warranted."
All NFL teams will be required to have video cameras installed in their weight rooms and cafeterias, including weight rooms that are outdoors or in practice bubbles, effective Nov. 29. Teams must retain video from those cameras for 30 days.
Green Bay Packets quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger each missed a game recently due to positive COVID-19 tests.