NFL loosens COVID-19 protocols for fully vaccinated players

According to NFL Media’s Judy Battista and Kevin Seifert of ESPN, the NFL is loosening health and safety protocols for players fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Owners were told during a Wednesday virtual meeting that fully vaccinated players no longer need to participate in daily coronavirus testing, aren’t required to wear masks or approved face coverings at team complexes, have no travel restrictions, can eat inside team cafeterias, use sauna and steam rooms, can interact with other vaccinated individuals, utilize weight rooms without following capacity limits, and don’t have to quarantine if exposed to an infected person. 

This news comes one day after multiple Cleveland Browns players not yet fully vaccinated were sent home because they were deemed high-risk close contacts of a player who returned a positive COVID-19 test result. 

While the NFL and NFL Players Association aren’t mandating players be vaccinated to participate in any team-related activities, commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated staff members deemed essential personnel who have direct contact with players are to be vaccinated unless they are exempt for medical or religious reasons. 

“We know for a fact that that is the one step that everyone can take that makes them safer, not just for themselves but for their families and others that they may be in contact with,” Goodell said about players willingly accepting coronavirus vaccine shots. “We’ll continue to provide whatever education that we can about vaccinations themselves with medical experts as well as others to try to help people make their personal decisions in the best possible way for their safety as well as the people around them.” 

Goodell added that 30 teams have hit or exceeded a 90% vaccination threshold for Tier 1 and Tier 2 non-playing personnel. The other two teams are above 85%. He did not divulge a percentage of vaccinated players. 

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