The NFL issued a stricter set of COVID-19 protocols on Monday following a Tennessee Titans outbreak and other positive tests that disrupted the Week 4 schedule.
Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office issued a two-page memo detailing the changes following a conference call with officials from every team.
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The memo says violations that affect the schedule could lead to a loss of draft picks or even a forfeit.
Changes include longer onboarding process for free agent tryouts, bans on gatherings outside the club facility, limitations on the number of tryouts permitted per week, and the implementation of a league-wide video-monitoring system to ensure compliance with the protocols – “particularly the mandate that all staff and players wear PPE while in a club facility and on travel at all times.”
Goodell said protocol violations that result in virus spread and lead to disruptions in the schedule “will result in additional financial and competitive discipline, including the adjustment or loss of draft choices or even the forfeit of a game.”
“Simply put, compliance is mandatory,” the memo added.
Other steps to minimise risks discussed during the call include holding all meetings virtually, wearing masks and shields during practices and walk-throughs, decreasing the size of the travel party and reducing the time spent in locker rooms and lunchrooms.
A total of 20 Titans players and staff members have tested positive since September 24. Tennessee’s Week 4 game with the Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed to October 25.
Sunday’s New England Patriots-Kansas City Chiefs game was pushed back to Monday night after both teams had one positive test, including Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. The Chiefs won 26-10 as they became the the first team in NFL history to record 4-0 starts in four consecutive seasons.
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