“This first phase of reopening is an important step in demonstrating our ability to operate [safely] and effectively, even in the current environment,” Goodell wrote in the memo. “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.”
The NFL closed all teams’ facilities and the league’s offices in New York in late March amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Last month’s NFL draft was conducted remotely, with teams’ coaches and general managers working from home and Goodell announcing the selections from his basement in Westchester County, N.Y. Teams are conducting their offseason programs for players remotely.
The league departed from its previous stance that teams’ facilities would reopen only when all 32 could reopen at once. However, there is little to no competitive advantage to be gained at this point, with coaches and players still barred from returning. The only players allowed in facilities during the initial phase of reopening are those undergoing medical treatment and rehabilitating from injuries.
Goodell wrote in Friday’s memo that the league continues to work with the NFL Players Association and medical experts “on developing protocols that could permit a certain number of players to return to club facilities as early as next month.” The NFL previously had informed teams that virtual offseason programs for players would continue at least through May 29.
The league had told teams earlier this month to be in compliance by Friday with the protocols for reopening facilities. Those protocols include temperature checks of employees and visitors, social-distancing measures within offices, the use of face coverings and the appointment by each team of an infection control officer. The NFL indicated then, and reiterated in Goodell’s memo Friday, that a team can have no more than half its staff back in its facility during this phase of reopening, to a maximum of 75 people.
Teams that are barred by state or local restrictions from reopening their facilities Tuesday can do so when those guidelines allow it, Goodell wrote Friday.
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