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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday that team facilities in some locations can reopen starting on May 19, nearly two months after a league-wide shutdown was imposed as a precautionary measure during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Clubs may reopen their facilities beginning on May 19 if they are permitted to do so under governing state and local regulations, are in compliance with any additional public health requirements in their jurisdiction and have implemented the protocols that were developed by [NFL chief medical officer] Dr. Sills and distributed to all clubs on May 6,” Goodell said in a league-wide memo obtained by ESPN.
Teams located in states where pandemic-related restrictions are still in place can reopen facilities as soon as the league’s criteria is met, Goodell added. The NFL is requiring that all teams have their “Infection Control Officers” complete a training course before reopening.
Even after they reopen, NFL facilities will operate under strict guidelines for the foreseeable future. No more than 75 team employees are permitted inside facilities at any given time, according to the memo.
Coaching staffs are barred from entering team facilities until further notice, as are all players except for those in need of medical treatment or rehab. Teams are required to report any confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the league office.
“This first phase of reopening is an important step in demonstration our ability to operate safely and effectively, even in the current environment,” Goodell added. “After we implement this first phase and as more states and localities enact policies that allow more club facilities to reopen, I expect that additional staff, likely including coaching staff, will be allow to return to club facilities in a relatively short time.”
The NFL initially ordered all team facilities to close on March 25. The league implemented a virtual offseason program to allow teams to operate on a limited basis during the shutdown.
Other pro sports, including the NBA and MLB, have taken similar steps to resume activity.
At present, the NFL is operating as if its 2020 season will proceed normally this fall. The league released a full 17-week schedule earlier this month.