NFL wants players to wear masks on sideline, in locker rooms for COVID-19 protection

Liz Roscher
·3 min read

The NFL is continuing to adapt and change their COVID-19 safety protocols to better protect players, coaches and staff. On Tuesday, the NFL issued some additional rules aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 whenever teams are together.

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that the league is increasing its mask requirements for players.

Now players will be required to wear masks during postgame hugs and handshakes with their opponents, and teams will also ask players to wear masks in locker rooms and on the sideline during games.

It appears that these latest rules are in response to the past 10 days of COVID-19 tests. Teams like the Las Vegas Raiders, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens have moved players to the reserve/COVID-19 list due to positive tests, but they’ve also had players moved to those lists because they were deemed to be “high risk close contacts” of the player who tested positive.

In the memo sent to teams, obtained by Pelissero, the NFL makes it clear that wearing a mask could prevent a player from being designated a “high risk close contact,” which requires five days of isolation away from the team.

The NFL is also increasing each team’s sideline space for every game, from one 20-yard line to the other.

Immediate action for midgame positives

Sills also discussed what would happen if the league found out a player had tested positive in the middle of a game.

After the embarrassing mess MLB and the Los Angeles Dodgers found themselves in when Justin Turner tested positive in the middle of Game 6 of the World Series, it’s no wonder the NFL wants to clarify this.

However, it doesn’t appear that Sills mentioned what would happen if a player’s test results are inconclusive before or during a game. Turner’s initial test was inconclusive and he was allowed to play while his next test was being run, which then came back positive.

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 25:  A stadium employee holds up a sign about wearing masks during the week 7 NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions on October 25, 2020 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The NFL is increasing mask requirements for players. (Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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