After a season full of strict protocols in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the daily routine of players across the NFL will look a lot different in 2021.
With vaccination rates increasing around the country, the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association made the decision to update the league’s COVID-19 protocols for training camp and the preseason in 2021. Those rules will differ depending on whether or not a player is fully vaccinated.
Per the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, fully vaccinated players and staff will no longer be required to undergo daily COVID-19 testing, and will not be required to wear a mask at their team’s facility or while traveling.
Those individuals will not have to socially distance themselves from other vaccinated members of the organization, and they will no longer have to quarantine if they have a high-risk exposure to COVID-19.
There won’t be any travel restrictions for those individuals, nor will there be any capacity limits in the weight room when everyone is fully vaccinated.
Those who are vaccinated will also be allowed to eat in the team cafeteria with others who are fully vaccinated, use the sauna/steam room, and interact with vaccinated family and friends when traveling.
Meanwhile, many parts of daily life for non-vaccinated individuals will remain similar to the protocols from the 2020 season.
Those non-vaccinated individuals will have to be tested for COVID-19 every day, and will be required to wear a mask both at their team’s facility and while traveling. They will also have to socially distance themselves from others in the building, and will have to quarantine after any high-risk exposure to COVID-19.
They will have to adhere to travel restrictions and a 15-player limit in the weight room, and players will not be allowed to eat with teammates in the cafeteria. Staff members won’t be allowed to eat in the cafeteria at all, and must grab their food and go.
Non-vaccinated players can’t participate in any activities classified as “social/media/marketing/sponsorship,” and will have to deal with serious protocols when their team is on the road, as well. Those include not being allowed to visit any restaurants outside of the team hotel, and not being permitted to interact with anyone outside of the team’s designated travel party.
While the NFL did deal with a multitude of COVID-19 cases around the league throughout 2020, the league managed to complete a full regular season and postseason without having to add any weeks to its calendar.
Now, as the NFL looks ahead to its first 17-game regular season in 2021, the league and its players, coaches, and staff members will adjust to life post-pandemic, whether they’re fully vaccinated or not.