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NFL, NFLPA lift COVID-19 protocols for 2022 season

Seattle Seahawks v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

With the Omicron wave subsiding and COVID-19 restrictions easing throughout the United States, the NFL and the NFLPA have agreed to drop virus protocols for the 2022 season. In other words, the plan for the upcoming season is to treat daily operations “as normal.”

“Based on current encouraging trends regarding the prevalence and severity of COVID-19, the evolving guidance from the CDC, changes to state law and the counsel of our respective experts, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to suspend all aspects of the joint COVID-19 Protocols,” the league memo read in part (via NFL.com). “We will continue to prioritize the health and safety of players, coaches and staff, as we have throughout the pandemic.”

While there were several postponements, big outbreaks for multiple teams, and one Kendall Hinton start at quarterback, no regular season or postseason games were cancelled.

Here are a few rules that are no longer in effect:

—There will no longer be mandatory surveillance testing of players or staff, regardless of vaccination status. However, teams will be “expected to identify a space inside the club facility to accommodate at least 10 Mesa docks” for anyone who reports symptoms.

—Players and staff are no longer mandated to wear Kinexon (tracking) devices.

—Regardless of vaccination status, players and staff are not required to wear masks or face coverings. This is subject to state and local requirements, and clubs are able to require masks “if they elect to do so.”

COVID-19 didn’t actually go away so there are still protocols for those who are experiencing symptoms and/or have tested positive. Any personnel who have a positive test must isolate for five days, and those who have COVID symptoms need to test negative to enter club facilities.

Teams can also require face masks at their own discretion, but it’s not a league-wide mandate as we’ve seen over the past two years.

One thing that remains to be seen is whether or not the special roster rules that were created as a result of COVID will stay in place, or if they’ll revert to pre-COVID era rules. Maybe we’ll get a mix-and-match. Here are just some of the examples:

Now obviously last season was going fairly smoothly for the NFL until Omicron hit, then protocols were adjusted on the fly. They’ve left the door open as a “just in case” another variant hits, a new wave occurs, etc. and some protocols may have to return.

“Should there be a reason to reimpose aspects of the Protocols or to take other measures, we will work closely with clubs, the NFLPA and our respective experts, and local, state and federal public health officials to continue to safeguard the health of the NFL community,” the memo reads.

But for now, it’s back to normal(ish) for the NFL.