NFL announces new covid-19 safety protocols amid rise in cases
With just 4 games to go in the regular 2021 season, the NFL announced changes to its covid-19 protocols after a record number of positive cases have surged
With the Omicron variant spreading its wings across the globe as the new year approaches, a wave of positive cases has emerged.
In the NFL alone, over 100 players have tested positive for the virus, prompting the league to tweak its covid-19 protocols.
All 32 teams in the league are in the concentrated covid-19 regulations through the end of Week 15 of the 2021 season. Mandatory masking, regardless of vaccination status, remote or outdoor meetings, the elimination of in-person meals and public appearances are all protocols among the new rules.
Other measures include no more than 15 individuals in a room at once, along with no visits at the hotel are allowed for staff and players, and no entertainment or dinner nights out while on the road.
Briefly after the NFL announced the changes, they released a statement:
"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. … We will continue to strongly encourage booster shots as the most effective protection.
"Finally, and based on expert advice, we will adjust the return-to-participation requirements for those who have recovered from covid-19. All of these changes are grounded in our data and science-backed approach, with safety our number-one goal for the entire NFL community."
NFL’s new return-to-play protocols
Under the new covid-19 protocols, vaccinated players who test positive no longer have to present two negative tests 24 hours apart before returning to play; fully vaccinated individuals can be released from quarantine as long as they are asymptomatic for at least 24 hours (depending on their BRL PCR or Mesa test results.)
As for unvaccinated players, no return-to-play changes have been applied.
With just four games to go in the regular 2021 season before the playoffs start, the NFL has not announced the cancellation or postponement of any games.