“The past few months have been among the most uncertain times that any of us has experienced,” Goodell wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. “It is impossible to project what the next few months will bring. Uninformed commentary that speculates on how individual clubs or the league will address a range of hypothetical contingencies serves no constructive purpose and instead confuses our fans and business partners, complicates the operations of other clubs, and distracts from the careful planning that is needed right now.”
The league, Goodell wrote, will “continue to work in a deliberate and thoughtful way to plan for the 2020 season, including with [Thursday’s] schedule release, and we will be prepared to address any contingencies as they arise. Clubs should continue to direct questions and concerns to our office and not comment or speculate publicly.”
The protocols for reopening facilities include temperature checks of employees and visitors, social distancing measures inside offices, the use of face coverings and the appointment of an infection control officer by each team. The NFL told teams that the protocols should be in place by May 15, after which teams will be advised when facilities can be reopened.
“An important step in the process of planning for the 2020 season involves the reopening of club facilities,” Goodell wrote. “As you know, we have devoted considerable effort in recent weeks to developing a set of protocols for the reopening of club facilities.”
Teams initially will be allowed to have half of their employees — not including players — in a facility on a given day, up to 75 people unless local restrictions require a lower number.
The protocols were developed by Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Duke University infectious disease experts and Thom Mayer, the medical director of the NFL Players Association.
“We are actively working on the next phase of reopening, which will involve both greater numbers of staff and players as well,” Goodell wrote. “We are actively working with the NFLPA on the protocols that would apply to player access to facilities and expect to have those protocols developed fairly soon.”
The league closed teams’ facilities and its offices in New York before last month’s draft. Coaches and general managers were forced to work from home during the draft. The league previously said that no facilities would reopen before all 32 could safely do so.
According to Wednesday’s memo, facilities can reopen when local and state governments consent to it; when a team has implemented the required protocols and obtained the necessary supplies; when a team has created an infection response team overseen by an infection control officer; and when employees receive safety and hygiene training.
Teams are instructed to keep six feet between employees when possible, to close common areas where employees would congregate and to discourage handshakes, personal contact and elevator use. Employees must wear face coverings except when alone in a closed office, and gloves are recommended for certain employees. Teams must provide hand sanitizer, soap and other hygiene materials and must sanitize doorknobs, phones, keyboards and other surfaces.
Employees and visitors are to undergo temperature screenings and answer questions about covid-19 symptoms. Any employees who exhibit symptoms, including those with a fever, will be instructed to leave the premises and seek medical care with possible coronavirus testing.
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