The continued vaccination effort has the United States looking as if it might be turning a corner in the COVID-19 pandemic, but the NFL is remaining as cautious as possible during its offseason.
In a Friday memo obtained by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the league informed clubs it is not permitting mixed gatherings of players and coaches outside of the club facility during the offseason program. It is, however, allowing vaccinated staff members to gather with other vaccinated staff members outside of the facility, with the same relaxation of rules applying to vaccinated players. The two groups cannot mix for now.
"We recognize that clubs would like to organize social and charitable events with both players and staff present, and we have approached the NFL Players Association in an effort to permit these types of activities, however they have not agreed to remove the prohibition," the NFL said in the memo. "We will continue to press the Union to provide clubs and players with additional flexibility in this area."
The league also informed teams they will be allowed to conduct training camp away from their team facilities if they so choose, but must prepare and submit a full infectious disease emergency response (IDER) plan to the league. The IDER plan must demonstrate how the club will comply with the existing NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols at their proposed alternative locations, including any and all hotels/transportation involved. These plans are expected to include details on air flow/filtration involved with all aspects of an alternative location.
The Washington Football Team announced this week it intends to return to full capacity at its home stadium of FedExField, and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in March he expects his team's training camp to return to Oxnard, California, before beginning a season he believes will include full capacity at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell mentioned during the 2021 NFL Draft the league is looking forward to welcoming fans back to full stadiums this fall.
Tune in to the 2021 NFL Schedule release at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 12, on NFL Network, NFL.com and the NFL app.