KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The NFL and its Players Association have agreed to updated COVID-19 protocols after more than 100 NFL players and coaches tested positive for the virus this week.
The new protocols take effect Thursday and will remain in effect through the conclusion of Week 15 games, which is scheduled to be Monday.
“Throughout the pandemic we have continuously evolved our protocols to meet our goal of advancing the safety of the players, coaches and staff. The changes we are making today aim to address the increase in cases and the advent of the Omicron variant,” the NFL said in a statement.
In-person meetings involving Tier 1 and Tier 2 players and coaches are prohibited, unless they are held outside or in the practice bubble. Everyone who attends the meetings must socially distance. All other meetings will take place virtually.
All players and staff must wear masks when indoors at the club facility, including in the weight
room, regardless of vaccination status.
Masks are not required if outdoors or during practices inside the practice bubble.
No more than 15 players may work out in a single weight room at one time, regardless of vaccination status.
Staff and players will not be allowed to eat together, regardless of vaccination status. Meals served in the meal rooms must be grab-and-go style, or there must be enough room for individuals to space out and be at least 10-feet from one another while eating.
Clubs must limit access or stagger mealtimes to allow physical distancing.
Staff and players will not be allowed to meet visitors at the team hotel. They will also not be allowed to go to dinner or leave the hotel after the game if they are playing an away game. The rules apply regardless of vaccination status.
ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE CLUB FACILITY
Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 staff and players will be subject to the following restrictions on
activity outside of the club facility through the conclusion of Week 15 games:
- Public player and coaches’ appearances and/or charity events are prohibited.
- Groups of more than three Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 Individuals, including players, are prohibited from gathering outside of the club facility or team travel, regardless of vaccination status.
All Tier 1 and Tier 2 staff and players are banned from engaging in the following “High Risk COVID Conduct” outlined in the November 9, 2021 COVID Protocols:
- Attending an indoor night club (unless the individual is wearing PPE and there are no more than 10 people in the club)
- Going to an indoor bar (other than to pick up food, or unless the individual is wearing PPE and there are no more than 10 people in the bar (a “bar” does not include an establishment that offers food service and which an individual attends primarily for food service even if the establishment also includes a full-service bar)
- House gatherings of more than fifteen (15) people without the player or Tiered staff member and all guests wearing masks or PPE or where social distancing for the more than 15 people is impossible
- Attending an indoor music concert/entertainment event
- Attending a professional sporting event (other than applicable NFL games or events, unless the player or Tiered staff member is seated in a separated seating section, such as a suite or owner’s box, is wearing PPE, and there are no more than 10 people in that separate seating section)
- Attending an event that is prohibited by state and/or local regulation, executive order or law implemented due to COVID-19.
“TESTING OUT” OF QUARANTINE FOR FULLY VACCINATED PLAYERS, STAFF
The NFL said it also evaluated its testing data and determined it needed to be updated.
Effective immediately, any fully vaccinated individual should be tested every day after a confirmed positive test. Any such fully vaccinated individual will be released from quarantine, provided they are asymptomatic for at least 24 hours by one of the following options:
- Option 1: S/he receives two (2) BRL PCR Test Results (taken on the day after the positive swab is taken (Day 1) or thereafter) (which may be taken concurrently) which are either negative or produce Cycle Threshold (CT) values of 35 or greater (all CT target levels (T1 and T2) must be 35 or greater)
- Option 2: S/he receives one (1) BRL PCR Test Result (taken on the day after the positive swab was taken (Day 1) or thereafter) which is either negative or produces CT values of 35 or greater (all CT target levels (T1 and T2) must be 35 or greater) AND a negative Mesa Test result from a test taken within 24 hours of the BRL PCR Test (i.e., both may be taken at the same time or less than 24 hours apart)
- Option 3: S/he receives two (2) negative Mesa Test results (which may be taken concurrently but must be two (2) separate swabs) on Day 1 (the day after the positive swab was taken) or thereafter (maximum limit of 3 tests may be taken per day).
In each of the scenarios outlined above, the NFL said a player’s club must activate him prior to the deadline for transactions for such game to be eligible to participate on game day.
In cases where the activation deadline occurs on the day prior to the game the club may need to activate the player prior to his clearance to play. In no event may a player be activated after the applicable transaction deadline for the game.
If the club elects to elevate a player prior to his clearance to play and he receives a positive test result and therefore is not eligible to play, the club must deactivate the player and will not be permitted to elevate another player using the Contagious Disease Addendum for that game.
Any individual who does not receive the required number of negative tests to “test out” prior to the expiration of his/her 10-day quarantine period will be eligible to return to the club facility and interact with players and Tiered Individuals consistent with the standard quarantine periods
Any individual who receives a confirmed positive test and then “tests out” or returns to the club facility after the standard quarantine period will then be eligible for the 90-day testing holiday beginning with the date of the individual’s first positive test.
ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL MODIFICATIONS
The NFL also told clubs to be prepared for additional modifications to the Protocols, which will likely include a reduction in the Tier limits similar to the limitations that were imposed toward the end of the 2020 regular
season and modifications to the Testing Protocol.
Until further notice, clubs must continue weekly testing for fully vaccinated individuals, daily testing for unvaccinated individuals, and any other testing as directed by the NFL Chief Medical Officer for clubs in the
Enhanced Mitigation Protocol.