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New COVID-19 protocols released for fully vaccinated NFL players, team personnel

Just like the rest of the country, the NFL is relaxing restrictions on people who are fully vaccinated. New protocols were announced on Wednesday in a joint statement from the NFL and NFLPA, the union representing NFL players. These are the things Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott have been discussing for weeks; a return to normalcy.

The biggest change for individuals is fully vaccinated players will no longer be tested daily. The language is a little up in the air (will it still be once a week or less frequent than that), but non-vaccinated players need to be tested every day.

As for the football training aspect, players who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to wear masks inside the club facility, they can eat in the cafeteria, use the sauna/steam rooms with other players, and be in the weight room without capacity restrictions. They won’t be required to quarantine after exposure to COVID-19-positive individuals, either, which is a significant advantage after watching what happened around the NFL last year.

Non-vaccinated players will still need to physically distance, wear masks, quarantine after exposure, abide by travel restrictions, eat in large open spaces, and observe all the restrictions that were added a year ago.

This is a major incentive for both the players and the teams to get the COVID-19 vaccine before training camp. With about two months left and a six-week window from first shot to full vaccination in the vast majority of vaccines distributed, time is of the essence. (Only 3.6 percent of the doses given in the United States have been of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires a two-week window from shot to full vaccinated.)

On Tuesday, McDermott said it was his goal to “educate” and not “convince” players to get vaccinated. Perhaps the changes implemented by the union and league will expedite that education process.