The NFL further restricts players’ access to team facilities as it tries to improve security measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a memo sent to the 32 clubs and obtained by The Associated Press, teams are required to close their facilities two days after the games, with some exceptions.
Starting Monday, all teams playing on Sunday will have to close those facilities for the next two days – except for clubs playing the following Thursday. Only players who require medical care for injuries or in rehabilitation programs are allowed to enter the team complex.
Coaches have access to the facility, but must work in their own office and can only meet virtually.
Teams playing on Monday night can then have players in their facilities on Thursday, and teams with Thursday night games must close the complex to players until Sunday.
“There are no exceptions to this ban,” the union wrote. “Previously received in-person meeting approvals do not apply to these two days.”
Changing rooms and cafeterias must be closed during those days.
Tryouts are allowed on those days with only “essential football personnel”. Players attempting for a team are subject to the current testing rules.
Such arrangements were agreed upon by the players’ union.
USA Today first reported that the memo was sent to the clubs.
The NFL also lifts the 62-player travel limit for teams. Each team can determine how many players they take to road events, including practice team players. That will take effect for this week’s games and should help fill the 48-man roster in case of coronavirus issues on game days.
All players attending games for both home and away teams and standing on the sidelines or in a designated stadium space with other players and staff must stay at the team hotel the night before the game.
NFL protocols have been constantly tweaked since training camps, with tougher restrictions taking effect in recent weeks as the nation faces a wave of the new coronavirus.
The competition had its second major outbreak in the past two weeks, with the Baltimore Ravens testing positive for at least two dozen people. That led to the shaking of Baltimore games in Pittsburgh from Thanksgiving night to last Sunday, then to Tuesday, and again to Wednesday, when the Steelers won 19-14.
“In closing,” the league wrote in the memo, “please remind all players and staff that meetings between players and / or club personnel of any number outside the club facility are prohibited at all times due to intensive protocol.”