The NFL and the NFL Players Association have reached a deal on new protocols for the 2021 season for fully vaccinated players and staff, specifically addressing policies for summer training camps and preseason games happening in a few weeks, according to the NFL Network.
The changes reflect recent guidance updates from the CDC and other health experts for fully vaccinated Americans.
Players who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to undergo daily COVID-19 testing and will not have to wear masks at team facilities. They will, however, still be tested every two weeks to catch any breakthrough cases.
In addition, those who are vaccinated will not need to quarantine after a high-risk exposure to a COVID-19 case.
The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to updated COVID-19 protocols for 2021 training camp and preseason, per source.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 16, 2021
How different will life by for vaccinated and unvaccinated players? From the memo that just went to clubs: pic.twitter.com/8yMPW0JBWZ
This protocol point could greatly impact on-the-field performance. Last year, anyone who was identified during contact tracing to have a high-risk exposure to a positive COVID-19 case had to quarantine for five days. This left many teams without star athletes, head coaches, or critical staff.
During one game, the Denver Broncos had none of their four quarterbacks eligible to play because of quarantine and exposure protocols at the time. The Broncos decided to pull a practice team wide receiver to step in as quarterback for most of the game.
Players who are not fully vaccinated are still required to undergo daily testing, must wear a mask at team facilities, and are prohibited from gathering even outside of club facilities. Those who are not vaccinated are also “barred from going to nightclubs, bars, house parties, concerts, etc.”
If a player, coach, or staff member breaks these protocols, they could face a fine of $50,000 for a first offense.
Members of the media who are fully vaccinated will be able to conduct player and coach interviews in person.