The NFL and the NFL Players Association have agreed to halt all aspects of their joint COVID-19 protocols, effective immediately.
Operations will return to normal following nearly two years of restrictions, the league relayed in a memo on Thursday, obtained by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.
It is a long-awaited awaited announcement as there will be no more requirements for masks, tracking devices, surveillance testing or capacity limits, unless they are required by state or local laws.
"Based on current encouraging trends regarding the prevalence and severity of COVID-19, the evolving guidance from the CDC, changes to state law and the counsel of our respective experts, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to suspend all aspects of the joint COVID-19 Protocols," the league memo read in part. "We will continue to prioritize the health and safety of players, coaches and staff, as we have throughout the pandemic."
The memo does, however, underscore that teams must remain "in compliance with state and local law and are free to continue reasonable measures to protect their staff and players."
Among the notable protocols that will be lifted:
- There will no longer be mandatory surveillance testing of players or staff, regardless of vaccination status. However, teams will be "expected to identify a space inside the club facility to accommodate at least 10 Mesa docks" for anyone who reports symptoms.
- Players and staff are no longer mandated to wear Kinexon (tracking) devices.
- Regardless of vaccination status, players and staff are not required to wear masks or face coverings. This is subject to state and local requirements, and clubs are able to require masks "if they elect to do so."
Going forward, per the memo: "All individuals must continue to monitor themselves for symptoms on a daily basis prior to entering the club facility."
If an individual experiences COVID-19 symptoms, they're directed to report to the club medical staff and will need a negative test to return to the club facility. Players -- or staff -- who test positive must now isolate for five days after a positive test.
Thursday's memo brings about a long-anticipated development after the 2020 and 2021 seasons were played under COVID-19 protocols that hugely altered day-to-day operations, led to game postponements and myriad missed games for players and coaches. However, as noted by Pelissero, over the previous two seasons, all 554 games were played and both Super Bowls took place on schedule.
As the NFL world is currently descending upon the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine to get a look at the players of the future, Thursday's announcement is a sign of things getting back to how they used to be prior to the 2020 season and the COVID-19 pandemic.
See the full memo below: