NFL teams can begin reopening their training facilities next week as part of a phased approach, although the Jets and Giants won’t be permitted to return just yet.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell informed team owners and top club executives Friday evening that facilities shuttered since late March because of the coronavirus pandemic can restart if local and state government regulations allow it. In the case of the Jets and Giants, both with practice facilities in New Jersey, state regulations prevent any team personnel from returning.
In the first phase, most coaches and players will not be permitted to return to the facilities. The only players allowed next week are those who are undergoing physical therapy or other rehab from injuries. Goodell said the rest of the players and coaches might return as soon as next month.
“Our goal is to reopen facilities safely and in a way that is consistent with medical and public health guidance . . . [when] permitted by current government regulations and respects principles of competitive equity,” he wrote in a memo, a copy of which was obtained by Newsday. “Clubs may reopen their facilities beginning May 19 if they are permitted to do so under governing state and local regulations, follow any additional public health requirements in their jurisdiction and have implemented the protocols that were developed by [NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills].”
Sills and other league medical experts recently distributed a series of protocols teams must adhere to before reopening on a limited basis. Among the requirements are the appointment of an infection control officer for each team and the return of no more than 50% of staff in the facilities, not to exceed 75 people.
“This first phase of reopening is an important step in demonstrating our ability to operate safely and effectively, even in the current environment,” Goodell said. “After we implement this first phase, and as more states and localities enact policies that allow more club facilities to reopen, I expect that additional staff, likely including coaching staff, will be allowed to return to club facilities in a relatively short time.
“In the meantime, we are continuing to work with the NFLPA and our medical teams on developing protocols that could permit a certain number of players to return to club facilities as early as next month.”
Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said the team will resume operations only when given the green light by the state of New Jersey. “We are subject to state regulations,” he said. “Bottom line, when we are cleared on all fronts to go back, we will, in an orderly, systematic, safe way to protect those in our building. It has been a process and protocol we have been developing for the last month or two.”
Jets spokesman Eric Gelfand confirmed the team’s facility will remain closed because of New Jersey state regulations.