The NFL and the NFL Players Association announced Wednesday they have agreed to suspend all COVID-19 protocols going into the 2022 football season, effective immediately.
In a memo released by the league, both the NFL and the players’ association announced the suspension, meaning the NFL will no longer conduct mandatory testing for any of its players and staff.
The league cites the “encouraging trends regarding the prevalence and severity of COVID-19, the evolving guidance from the CDC, changes to state law and the counsel of our respective experts” as reasons for the change in COVID protocols.
With the change in protocols, players and staff will no longer have to wear face coverings at team facilities, regardless of vaccination status. Each club, however, can require face coverings “if they elect to do so.”
Moving forward, the league says that players and staff must continue to monitor themselves for any COVID-19 symptoms “on a daily basis” prior to entering any NFL facility, according to the memo.
Anyone displaying symptoms must report it to the team and show proof of a negative test before entering any NFL facility. Those that test positive, however, must self-isolate for five days after their test.
League officials say they will continue to “prioritize the health and safety of players, coaches and staff” as they have done so since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Should there be a reason to reimpose aspects of the Protocols or to take other measures, we will work closely with clubs, the NFLPA and our respective experts, and local, state and federal public health officials to continue to safeguard the health of the NFL community,” the league said in its memo, according to NFL’s Tom Pelissero.
The NFL continued the memo by emphasizing that teams must remain “in compliance with state and local law” and are “free to continue reasonable measures to protect their staff and players.”
News of Thursday’s memo from the league comes after two NFL seasons were played under the implemented protocols brought on by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While no NFL games were canceled during the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to the COVID-19, many teams ended up moving games during the 2020 schedule, according to The Associated Press. Nearly 95% of NFL players and about 100% of NFL staff were fully vaccinated, the AP reported.