Coaches will return to NFL team facilities closed Friday due to the corona virus pandemic as the league continues to prepare for training camps and the season.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a memo from The Associated Press to the 32 clubs on Thursday that coaching staff can work from team complexes from Friday. Previously, only a maximum of 75 people could be in the facilities per day, while coaches and players did not seek treatment for injuries.
“As highlighted in previous advice on facility reopening, this can only happen if your club has otherwise received the necessary permission from the state and local governments to reopen the facility,” Goodell wrote.
All coaches count towards the maximum number of club staff in the facility, but that number is increased to 100 – also subject to government regulations and implementation of health protocols developed by the NFL medical staff.
The team facilities were closed in March, and the league developed a phasing plan that they had to reopen pending government approval.
Goodell said the league would work with each team’s medical staff to implement a program of COVID-19 tests for the coaching staff and other football staff “before players return to club facilities.”
The Commissioner did not mention in the memo when uninjured players may be approved to return to the team facilities. That’s probably not until the next month.
“Coaches and other football staff, especially those who are in a higher risk category or who are concerned about their own health status,” Goodell wrote, “are expected to speak to the club’s medical staff or personal physician about special precautions or other accommodations that may be appropriate for their specific circumstances. “
While the NFL has made contingency plans for preseason and regular season delays – and may be playing games minus fans – it has stuck to the off-season schedule of free agency, the draft and owner meetings, all done virtually. Reopening team facilities, while slow and careful, was the next step.
Starting Friday, coaching staff members will be able to collaborate instead of remotely, albeit within social distance protocols, at team complexes. All off-season training programs remain virtual projects.