Coaches will be allowed to return beginning Friday to NFL team facilities closed because of the coronavirus pandemic as the league continues preparation for training camps and its season.
Commissioner Roger Goodell told the 32 clubs on Thursday in a memo obtained by The Associated Press that coaching staffs may work from team complexes starting Friday. Previously, only up to 75 people per day could be at the facilities, with coaches and players not seeking treatment for injuries barred.
“As has been emphasized in previous advice on reopening facilities, this may occur only if your club has otherwise received necessary permission from state and local governments to reopen its facility,” Goodell wrote.
All coaches will count toward the maximum number of club employees in the facility, but that number will be increased to 100 — also subject to governmental regulations and implementation of health protocols developed by the NFL’s medical staff.
Team facilities were closed in March, and the league developed a phasing plan for them to reopen, pending governmental permission.
Goodell said the league would be working with each team’s medical staff to implement a program of COVID-19 testing for the coaching staff and other football personnel “prior to players returning to club facilities.”
The commissioner did not mention in the memo when uninjured players might be approved to return to team facilities. It’s likely that won’t be until training camps open next month.
“Coaches and other football staff, particularly those who may be in a higher risk category or who have concerns about their own health conditions,” Goodell wrote, “are expected to speak with the club medical staff or personal physician about any special precautions or other accommodations that may be appropriate for their particular circumstances.”
While the NFL has been making contingency plans for delays in the preseason and regular season — and possibly playing games minus fans — it has steadfastly stuck to its offseason schedule of free agency, the draft and owners meetings, all done virtually. Reopening team facilities, though slowly and carefully, has been the next step.
Beginning Friday, coaching staffs may work together rather than remotely, albeit within social distancing protocols, at team complexes. All offseason workout programs remain virtual projects.