The US National Football League (NFL) had updated its Covid-19 protocols in response to the spread of the Omicron variant, imposing restrictions on both vaccinated and unvaccinated players.
The NFL announced its revised protocols in a statement on Thursday, revealing that masks would be mandatory “regardless of vaccination status,” that in-person meals would be banned, and that meetings would be held either remotely or outdoors, “effective immediately.”
“The changes we are making today aim to address the increase in cases and the advent of the Omicron variant,” the statement declared, adding that the NFL would “continue to strongly encourage booster shots as the most effective protection.”
“All of these changes are grounded in our data and science-backed approach, with safety our number-one goal for the entire NFL community,” the NFL concluded.
While both vaccinated and unvaccinated players were ordered to mask up, the league cut the vaccinated some slack, making it easier for them to return to play after quarantine.
Under the new protocols, vaccinated players have more testing options which will allow them to hit the field after quarantine quicker, while unvaccinated players will continue to be required to test daily, unlike vaccinated players who test weekly.
Still, the new protocols did not go down well on social media, with critics pointing out that rolling out restrictions for vaccinated and unvaccinated players might discourage skeptics to get the jab.
After bullying all players and coaches into getting “vaccinated” for covid the NFL today announced new covid policies that essentially acknowledge there is no difference between the vaccinated and unvaccinated players.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) December 16, 2021
Genuine question, what incentive to NFL players have to get vaccinated? All this does it make it so people on the fence won't do it. https://t.co/gz3AUjmDnw
— Ben McDonald (@Bmac0507) December 16, 2021
NFL in August: “Get vaccinated to enjoy freedom”
NFL today: “LOL JK” https://t.co/Z4rOyYx3PC
— BeatinTheBookie.com™️ (@BeatinTheBookie) December 16, 2021
The NFL has been pushing its vaccine-skeptical players and staff into getting vaccinated and previously enforced harsh, separate protocols for the unvaccinated, which included daily testing, mandatory masks, and a ban on mingling with others.
Several stars have been punished for breaking the NFL’s Covid-19 rules and Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown was suspended this month for using a counterfeit vaccination card to ‘prove’ his status.
NFL Network’s Judy Battista reported on Wednesday that around 100 players recently tested positive for the virus over a three-day span.