On Friday NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave teams permission to reopen their facilities next week, provided they meet certain conditions.
“We will begin the process of opening our facilities on Tuesday, May 19, with a limited number of staff being permitted in our buildings,” offered Pittsburgh Steelers PR spokesman Burt Lauten in a statement issued on Friday night. “Health and safety of our employees will continue to be our priority as we phase up to the fully allowed staff level.”
Statement is from Burt Lauten on reopening of facilities next week: https://t.co/KrxRzKp9Ls
— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) May 16, 2020
The Steelers’ statement indicates that the team has met—or anticipates meeting—the requirements outlined in Friday’s memorandum from Goodell to NFL chief executives and club presidents.
Goodell’s Memorandum, Infection Control Officers
The memo, obtained by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network/nfl.com, states that “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 … distributed to all clubs on May 6.”
From the NFL to owners and presidents regarding the potential reopening of facilities amid the Coronavirus pandemic pic.twitter.com/YKpyDQaGvq
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 15, 2020
In addition, any team that plans to open next week must have had its designated Infection Control Officer (ICO) complete the required training program.
‘First Phase’ Restrictions
However, numerous restrictions are in place during this “first phase of reopening.”
Most notably, “clubs may have no more than 50 percent of staff in the facility, not to exceed 75 persons,” a total that applies to all locations. That is, the combined number of employees at all locations may not exceed 75.
Moreover, “no members of the coaching staff may return to the facility,” a restriction designed to ensure equity among all 32 teams. The only possible exception is the team’s strength and conditioning coach, who is allowed to return if he is currently participating in player rehabilitation.
No players are allowed to be in team facilities, except for those currently undergoing medical treatment or rehabilitation. This would include both Ben Roethlisberger and Stephon Tuitt—and perhaps others—as both Roethlisberger and Tuitt are recovering from season-ending surgeries.
Clubs Must Report Cases of COVID-19
Another key provision in Friday’s memorandum is that clubs must “promptly” report any incidence of COVID-19 to the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer. The club must also make the team’s ICO aware of any cases.
But if all goes well with this first phase of reopening, the NFL anticipates moving to the next stage in short order.
“This first phase of reopening is an important step in demonstrating our ability to operate safely and effectively, even in the current environment,” states Goodell’s memo. “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 allowed to return to club facilities in a relatively short time.”
NFL facilities have been closed since March 25 in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Steelers’ offices are at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, home to the team’s practice and training facilities.
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