The National Football League (NFL) has directed all of its clubs to implement stringent health and safety regulations from Saturday as Covid-19 cases continue to rise across the US.
A statement sent to the teams, as obtained by Reuters, included comments from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who claimed that the decision to intensify restrictions had been motivated by the forthcoming Christmas holidays and the “sharp growth in COVID-19 cases in our communities and the related increase in cases among our players and other club employees.”
The US has witnessed a severe spike in new Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, affecting the number of hospitalisations that reached a record 75,000 on November 17.
‘Intensive protocol’, the safety criteria that was initially brought in on a temporary and case-by-case basis, will be introduced once again, which prevents indoor team meetings and limits the number of players allowed in the weight room at one time.
According to the NFL, 28 teams have already introduced the intensive protocols during the season, successfully reducing the contact between players, therefore protecting the welfare of the players.
Goodell said: “It has been said many times that our 2020 season cannot be ‘normal’ because nothing about this year is normal.
“Flexibility and adaptability have been critical to our success to date and we must continue with that approach.”
The NFL has not discouraged teams from allowing spectators back into stadiums once again, with 19 teams having done so, so far. Reportedly, the NFL will maintain this, allowing the teams and local authorities to make their own decisions regarding admittance of fans.
Despite cancellations in college football, the NFL has only had to reschedule fixtures after players have tested positive for the virus. Plans have been laid out for an extended play-off pool if the virus does surge to a level where games have to be cancelled alongside plans for the Super Bowl, set to take place in February, being hosted in Florida.
Author: Jake Wilkin