With mandatory minicamps coming to a close around the NFL, the league and the NFL Players Association have come to an agreement for COVID-19 protocols for training camps and preseason games, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Wednesday via an NFL memo.
Foremost among protocols is how different the preseason will be for players and individuals who are vaccinated and who not fully vaccinated.
For those fully vaccinated, there will be no daily testing, whereas those who are not fully vaccinated must be tested every day. It will be the same for face coverings, with none required if fully vaccinated and mandated at club facility and team travel if not.
Individuals who are not fully vaccinated, including players, will be prohibited from gathering outside club facilities or team travel. NFL players who are not fully vaccinated will be barred from going to nightclubs, bars, house parties, concerts, etc. Failure to follow the protocols could result in fines of $50,000 for a first offense.
One difference that Pelissero notes could have major competitive implications is that fully vaccinated individual who have been exposed to a coronavirus-positive person will not be labeled a high-risk close contact, so they will not be subject to a mandatory five-day isolation.
Coaches and staff members who are not fully vaccinated -- and do not have religious or medical exemptions -- will not be eligible for Tier 1 or 2 status in training camp and will therefore not be allowed to work in-person with players. Strength and conditioning coaches, for instance, must be fully vaccinated to be in a weight room with players. If it's an indoor weight room, players who are not fully vaccinated must work out with their masks on. For coaches who are fully vaccinated, there will no longer be face coverings required, which was a hallmark of the 2020 season, such as Chiefs head coach Andy Reid's face shield or other coaches being fined for not always wearing theirs.
For all unvaccinated individuals during travel, gathering with outside guests in hotel rooms, seeing family and friends, etc. is prohibited.
There will also be significant changes for members of the media and fans.
Fully vaccinated media members will be allowed to conduct in-person interviews, which was prohibited throughout the 2020 season. In contrast, media members who are not fully vaccinated are disallowed access to the press box, field, sidelines and locker rooms.
Though fans will not be allowed to interact with players, they are allowed to attend training camps. They must remain more than 20 feet from Tier 1 staff, including players, and adhere to physical distancing.
The full memo on the updated COVID-19 protocols can be found here.