Nine days before the season opener, the NFL has updated its protocols.
It has tweaked both the travel rules, reducing the travel party, and its game-day protocols.
NFL owners now are required to follow COVID-19 testing requirements if they want access to the locker room, playing field or team charter. That mandate came from the owners health and safety committee, Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said Tuesday.
“We’ve continued to decrease the numbers overall on the team’s travel parties, to decrease the numbers of people that will be in team locker rooms,” Sills said. “Then, even up to and affecting our owners. We had a part of a protocol put in that ownership will have limited access, and will have to be tested if they want to be on the field and in the locker room.
“I think everyone has pitched in. That idea actually came from the owners health and safety committee themselves. Everyone recognizes that reducing numbers all around helps keep us safer.”
Another new game-day protocol calls for every coach and staff member in the bench area to wear a mask. That includes head coaches.
Some practices are inside; some are outside. Some coaches are wearing masks during practice; others aren’t. Some coaches and staff are taking masks off at times during practice.
They won’t have a choice come game day.
“Coaches and other staff in the bench areas during games now will be required to wear face coverings,” Sills said. “We think that’s an appropriate risk-mitigation step as well, so that’s something new you’ll see.”