The National Football League was forced to deal with the global COVID-19 pandemic just like any other business. The league played much of the 2020 season with limited or no fans in the stadiums. Games were constantly reshuffled and rescheduled. Mask mandates and vaccine controversies were the order of the day.
The “new normal” for the NFL has now come to an end. ESPN has reported that the league and players union have agreed to put an immediate halt to all COVID-related protocols. The group cites encouraging trends regarding the spread of the virus for their decision.
Mandatory testing for asymptomatic players and staffers was already gone by the end of 2021. Now, there will be no mandatory testing at all. Contract tracing devices and social distancing will also be tossed. Teams will be able decide on their own if they prefer masking rules. A memo circulated through the league explained the process.
“Should there be a reason to reimpose aspects of the protocols or to take other measures, we will work closely with clubs, the NFLPA and our respective experts, and local, state and federal public health officials to continue to safeguard the health of the NFL community.”
There were not too many COVID-related issues in the NFL this season. It appears the league’s measures were enough. Now that society is starting to return to normal, it appears the league will follow.
The NFL finished the 2021 season with vaccination rates at 95% for players. Other football-related staffers were near 100%. Despite a lot of talk and controversy, the NFL handled their COVID mitigation efforts well. Next year will be back to business as usual.
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