The National Football League and players' association have agreed to updated COVID-19 protocols for 2021 training camp and preseason, which will likely be the framework for what college conferences adopt for the 2021 season.
The rules include a sharp contrast for unvaccinated vs. vaccinated athletes and personnel. According to a memo acquired by Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, fully vaccinated individuals will only be tested for the coronavirus once every two weeks. Individuals who aren’t fully vaccinated will continue daily testing.
Fully vaccinated individuals exposed to a COVID-positive individual won’t be labeled a high-risk close contact and subject to the mandatory five-day isolation that kept a bunch of players, coaches and others out of games in 2020.
Other items per the memo:
"Strength and Conditioning Coaches must be fully vaccinated in order to be in the weight room while players are working out. Players who are not fully vaccinated must wear masks at all times while in indoor weight rooms (including while actively engaged in a workout)."
"Fans will be permitted to attend Training Camp, provided that they are more than 20 feet away from Tier 1 staff, including players, at all times, and adhere to physical distancing requirements. Fans will not be permitted to interact with players at any time."
The memo reiterates that coaches and other staff who aren’t fully vaccinated and don’t have a religious or medical exemption won’t be eligible for Tier 1 or Tier 2 status starting in training camp, and thus won’t be allowed to work in-person with players.
Unvaccinated individuals, including players, will also be prohibited from gathering outside of the club facility or team travel. This includes gathering for meetings, practices or training activities unless approved by the NFL and NFLPA.
Failure to follow the protocols could result in fines of $50,000 for a first offense.
Also, a standard policy of five-day testing for tryout players, street free agents etc. who aren’t fully vaccinated has been added.
Fully vaccinated media will be permitted to conduct in-person interviews with players for the first time since early 2020.
Unvaccinated media not allowed in press box, field, sidelines, locker room, etc.
SEC Media Days are scheduled to begin July 19.
This story will be updated as necessary