It remains to be seen whether fans will be allowed to attend NFL games this season, assuming games are played at all. But a report emerged today that the league wants two stadium fan events during training camp—and the NFL Players Association is apparently amenable to the idea, with limitations, of course. One of those limitations is that fans will have no contact with players or coaches.
Training Camp at Heinz Field
If the Steelers plan to have fans in attendance at games this fall, it might make sense to use training camp events as a trial run. Assuming large swaths of seats are available for use, Heinz Field ought to be able to accommodate a training camp-sized gathering of fans while still allowing attendees to maintain social distancing.
It would also be a good opportunity to test out procedures that would need to be in place for the Steelers’ home preseason game, and any subsequent regular season games.
According to the above-referenced report, fans coming to a training camp event would be subjected to temperature checks and screened for symptoms. That means the process of getting into the stadium is going to be elongated. Procedures for buying concessions and going to the restroom will also need to be established—and tested—preferably on a small scale.
NFL, NFL Players Association Have Many Issues to Resolve
Fans at training camp aside, there are still countless issues to be worked out if NFL games are going to be played, with or without fans in attendance.
A report today indicates that the league wants players to wear face shields this year, but the players aren’t ready to accept mandatory face shields. Another report indicates that players are opposed to mandatory hotel stays during training camp.
Players are also reportedly resistant to the idea of 11-on-11 activities in practice. Moreover, the NFL Players Association “also wants limited practices and group activities in the days leading up to travel and games, with restrictions applying as of Thursday of a given week, in order to permit accurate testing and to limit transmission of the virus.”
NFL Sends COVID-19 Protocols to Teams
In the meantime, we now have some clarity in terms of COVID-19 protocols for training camp and the preseason—that is, what will happen when a player, coach or team employee is exposed to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.
Tom Pelissero, reporter for the NFL Network and NFL.com, has tweeted out the flow chart of the “mitigation and treatment rubric.”
The NFL last night sent to clubs COVID-19 protocols for 2020 training camp and preseason, including this detailed breakdown for handling individuals exposed to someone who tested positive: pic.twitter.com/bX7aQzMZTZ
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 4, 2020
For one, if there has been close contact to a symptomatic or COVID-19 positive individual, a coronavirus test is required, with isolation until results become available. If that coronavirus test comes back positive, there are different protocols based on whether the individual is symptomatic or asymptomatic.
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