Football

NFL loosens COVID restrictions for vaccinated

The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to extend their two-tiered COVID-19 protocols into training camp and the preseason, maintaining severe restrictions on unvaccinated players but removing almost all of them for those who are fully vaccinated.

In a memo distributed Wednesday, teams also received details on fan and media access to training camp and preseason games as well as a fine schedule for players who violate specific protocols. But the most pressing issue was how the NFL and NFLPA would treat players and coaches who either decline to be vaccinated or are not fully vaccinated — with “fully vaccinated” defined as being at least two weeks past their final shot — when camps open next month.

The NFL decided earlier this year not to make vaccines mandatory for players, and a number of high-profile players have said in recent weeks that they have not yet received a shot. While those players will still be allowed to participate in practices and games, the memo outlines a set of protocols that will essentially create two teams within each organization.

Per the memo, any player who is not fully vaccinated will continue to be subject to:

  • Daily testing, mask wearing and physical distancing

  • A quarantine if he has a high-risk exposure to someone with COVID-19

  • Significant restrictions when traveling, including required isolation in the team hotel and relegation to a separate team plane

  • A prohibition of meals with teammates

  • A prohibition on social, media and marketing sponsorship activities

  • A ban on gathering with more than three other players away from the team facility

  • A requirement to wear personal protective equipment to visit a nightclub or indoor bar that has more than 10 people in it

  • A ban on attending indoor concerts or other entertainment events.

  • A five-day delay between first reporting to training camp and participating fully in activities.

Vaccinated players will face none of those restrictions. They will be required to be tested once every 14 days.

The memo also directed teams to keep fans a minimum of 20 feet from players and key staff members during training camp. That means no autographs or photographs will be allowed. Fully vaccinated media members will have access to physically distanced in-person interviews, but postgame locker room access will be limited to team and NFL media, or NFL Films.

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