The Vikings reopened TCO Performance Center on Monday to around 60 front office employees, a step they're calling Phase 1 of the process to get everyone back in the facility ahead of the 2020 NFL season. However, it may be a while before players and coaches get back to normal business.
The building had been closed to all employees since March 13th because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. 87 days later, the reopening process took its first major step forward. The employees were specifically chosen and will go through daily health screenings.
"These staff members, who are voluntarily returning, come from multiple departments within the organization and have been prioritized because of their need to access the facility in order to effectively complete their job duties," the Vikings announced in a press release.
"All employees entering TCO Performance Center have completed training and a health survey. Upon arrival at the facility each day, they will follow a screening protocol, including a daily temperature check, and wear masks when not in their private offices. The organization has also established an Infection Response Team and implemented measures inside the facility to ensure proper distancing, including the closure of all conference rooms and staggered work shifts."
Despite this, the majority of Vikings employees will still continue to work remotely. The success of this first phase will be monitored closely as the Vikings "consider when to reintroduce additional staff to the facility."
For players and coaches, everything team-related will remain virtual. Judging by this tweet from rookie receiver Justin Jefferson, it's safe to say there are some players that would like to be allowed in the facility sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately for Jefferson, that may not happen for awhile.
And while some teams have already brought their coaching staffs back after the NFL announced that it was okay to do so, the Vikings are not among them. According to a note from Albert Breer in his weekly MMQB column, the Vikings are one of several teams that will likely bring back players and coaches at the same time because they believe they have "hit a nice rhythm in working remotely."
That's consistent with what we've heard from Mike Zimmer and others this offseason. It seems like the Vikings have adjusted well to these unique circumstances.
Even if it's not a massive development, this is a positive step forwards for the Vikings and the NFL. We are now less than 100 days away from the first regular season games, and training camps could begin as soon as July.
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