NFL revises COVID-19 protocols ahead of Thanksgiving

The NFL is revising its COVID-19 protocols for players and team staff ahead of its Thanksgiving slate of games. 

In a memo sent to teams Tuesday, the league said it would mandate that both vaccinated and unvaccinated team personnel wear masks indoors for a week beginning on Thanksgiving. 

Team personnel will also be required to undergo two COVID-19 tests on Monday, Nov. 29, and Wednesday, Dec. 1, according to the memo, obtained by The Hill. 

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Additional mask-wearing will not be required when teams practice outdoors or in their team facility practice bubbles.

The league cited the growing number of confirmed COVID-19 infections around the U.S. in the memo, writing, “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.”

“Our experts and data confirm that getting vaccinated remains our strongest defense against contracting and transmission of the virus within club facilities,” the memo noted. 

The NFL is also encouraging clubs to offer drive-through COVID testing for friends and families of staff and players if they are visiting or staying with them for the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Star quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, on the Green Bay Packers, and Ben Roethlisberger, on the Pittsburgh Steelers, each missed a game in the prior weeks due to positive COVID-19 tests. 

Rodgers, who garnered controversy for his anti-vaccination stance, was issued a $14,650 fine along with his teammate wide receiver Allen Lazard for violating the league and player union’s (NFLPA) COVID protocols. 

The NFL offered in the memo to send league staff to team facilities to assist with the enforcement of COVID protocols.