The NFL is moving forward with a plan to reopen team facilities by May 15 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo to all 32 teams on Wednesday and laid out different stages of the protocols in detail. The first phase highlights dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and the limited number of non-player personnel that will be allowed at the facilities.
Initially, only 50 percent of the non-player employees are allowed on any day. With that said, a lower number could be expected depending on the state or local regulations.
Ultimately, it is up to the individual teams when facilities reopen, and which employees could return to work. Players are not allowed in the facility unless they continue treatment and rehabilitation for previous injuries from when facilities were ordered to close in late March.
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“The protocols are intended to allow for a safe and phased reopening,” Goodell wrote in the memo. “The first phase would involve a number of non-player personnel. … No players would be permitted in the facility except to continue a course of therapy and rehabilitation that was underway when facilities were initially closed.”
“Clubs should take steps to have these protocols in place by Friday, May 15 in anticipation of being advised when club facilities will formally reopen.”
Goodell said that the league is working on the next phase of reopening, which will include more staff workers and players. He said that the league is in contact with the NFL Players’ Union regarding the next phase, and those protocols are not finished at this time.
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“It is impossible to project what the next few months will bring,” Goodell said.
Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s medical director, will talk to each team physician and the infection control officer to discuss implementation and medical aspects of the protocols.
The step-by-step requirements for the first phase are:
- Local and state government officials must consent to reopening.
- The team must implement all operational guidelines set by the league to minimize the risk of virus transmission among employees.
- Each club must acquire adequate amounts of needed supplies as prescribed by the league.
- An Infection Response Team with a written plan for newly diagnosed coronavirus cases.
- An Infection Control Officer to oversee all aspects of the implementation of the listed guidelines.
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- Each employee who returns to work at the club facility must receive COVID-19 safety and hygiene training prior to using the facility, and agree to report health information to the ICO.
- The response team must consist of a local physician with expertise in common infectious disease principles; the team physician can fill that role. Also on the response team will be the infection control officer, the team’s head athletic trainer; the team physician, if he or she is not serving as the local physician; the human resources director; the team’s chief of security; its mental health clinician or someone with equivalent clinical expertise; and a member of the club’s operations staff such as the facility manager.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.