NFL to increase COVID protocols ahead of Thanksgiving regardless of vaccine status

The NFL is also asking clubs to 'ensure' that 'non-fully vaccinated' players avoid large gatherings outside the facility

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The NFL issued a memo to all 32 clubs on Wednesday informing teams of heightened protocols ahead of Thanksgiving weekend that will require players and staff, vaccinated or not, to wear masks at all times while inside team facilities until Dec. 1, as well as additional COVID testing. 

The memo, obtained by the NFL Networks’ Tom Pelissero, cited an increase in COVID cases nationwide as the need for additional safety measures. 

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"This upward trend, coupled with the onset of colder weather driving individuals indoors, has resulted in an increased risk of infection among players and staff," the memo read. "Our experts and data confirm that getting vaccinated remains our  strongest defense against contracting and transmission of  the virus within club facilities."

The most notable change will be that all Tier 1 and 2 individuals will be required to wear masks from Nov. 25 through Dec. 1 inside team facilities with two testing days following Thanksgiving. 

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The NFL is also asking clubs to "ensure" that "non-fully vaccinated" players avoid large gatherings outside the facility, including "house gatherings of more than 15 people without all individuals wearing PPE and maintaining physical distancing." 

A general view of the NFL logo on the field is seen before the game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on Oct. 3, 2021 in Inglewood, California.

A general view of the NFL logo on the field is seen before the game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on Oct. 3, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

The league also urged clubs to offer testing to family and friends before any interactions with players and staff. 

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The memo informed teams that beginning on Nov. 29, every club will be required to have video surveillance in their weight and cafeteria areas for the NFL to review, a practice that has been "periodically" done to ensure teams are complying with COVID protocols.