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NFL training camp rules set high bar for players to return from coronavirus

With NFL players and coaches scheduled to finally reunite in just over three weeks, the league sent a memo to all teams Friday detailing COVID-19 protocol for training camp and the preseason.

Developed in association with the NFL Players Association, the memo from commissioner Roger Goodell features the steps teams must take regarding treatment and testing of the novel coronavirus.

Teams will need to perform contact tracing if any person tests positive or possesses symptoms of the virus. Any person in the proximity of an infected individual will be required to be tested for eight straight days — regardless of the test result — while a person who tests positive must remain away from the team facility for at least 10 days, unless testing negative twice in a five-day span after a positive test. Doctors must clear any person who tests positive, before returning to the site.

Jets
The Jets work out on the field.Richard Harbus

During training camp, players and coaches will be asked to conduct meetings virtually or outdoors. All team employees will be required to wear masks inside the facility, while players and staff must perform social distancing of at least six feet from each other, even inside the locker room. Strength and conditioning workouts will be capped at 15 people, while teams are permitted to have as many as 110 people — all required to wear masks — in a traveling party for a road game.

An agreement has not yet been reached regarding players’ ability to opt out of the season due to health concerns, which multiple NBA, MLB and NHL players have already done. The NFLPA reportedly voted to entirely cancel the two-game preseason — which was already cut in half — in order to make up for the in-person team workouts and camps missed during the spring and summer.

Though fans and visitors will not be permitted to attend training camp, the league is allowing teams to hold as many as two events with fans at their respective stadium, if local health regulations allow it. In such a scenario, fans would be dispersed throughout the building and not be permitted to sit in the first eight rows. Media members will not be allowed to interview players in person.

All team employees are subject to discipline should anyone refuse to follow health and safety protocols. Both the league and NFLPA are authorized to make surprise inspections to enforce the new policies.

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