NFL teams can begin reopening their facilities on Tuesday if state and local governments will allow it, according to a memo sent to the 32 teams Friday by commissioner Roger Goodell that was obtained by The Associated Press.
But Goodell stressed that the clubs must be “in compliance with any additional public health requirements in their jurisdiction, and have implemented the protocols that were developed by (league medical officer) Dr. (Allen) Sills and distributed to all clubs on May 6.”
Facilities have been closed since late March due to the coronavirus pandemic. This week, each team was required to submit a plan to the league for reopening its training and practice facility.
“Clubs unable to meet these criteria on May 19 may reopen their facilities on the earliest date thereafter on which they are able to meet the criteria,” Goodell added.
Sills will conduct a mandatory training program for club infection control officers on Monday night.
In order to reopen, teams must meet a set of criteria developed by Sills. One rule stipulates that no more than 50% of their staff, or 75 people, can be in the facility. If a club wants to deploy staff to more than one location, all locations must implement the same health and safety protocols, and the combined number of employees at all locations can’t exceed 75.
Additionally, no members of the coaching staff can return to the facility under the first phase of reopening. “This is important to ensure equity among all 32 clubs,” Goodell wrote.
Similarly, no players may be in the facility other than those undergoing medical treatment or rehab. Strength and conditioning coaches participating in player rehab may continue that work in the facility — but otherwise, they are barred until the rest of the coaching staff is allowed to return.
Members of the personnel, football operations and football administration staff, equipment staff, medical staff, and nutritionists are allowed to attend.
“After we implement this first phase, and as more states and localities enact policies that allow more club facilities to reopen, I expect that additional staff, likely including coaching staff, will be allowed to return to club facilities in a relatively short time,” Goodell wrote.
“In the meantime, we are continuing to work with the NFLPA and our medical teams on developing protocols that could permit a certain number of players to return to club facilities as early as next month.”
NFL teams would normally be holding organized team activities in May, followed by June minicamps. Due to the pandemic, such activities have been done remotely.
Coaching and training staff have worked with the players by conducting classroom instruction and on-field activities through digital applications instead of at team facilities. Those virtual meetings can occur for four hours per day, four days per week.
The NFL has held the scouting combine, free agency and the draft in the last two months. It released the regular-season schedule and said it expects to play it as planned, beginning September 10 with Houston at Super Bowl champion Kansas City. But it is also making contingency plans for everything from a shortened season, to moving the dates of games, to playing in empty stadiums.