The NFL is expanding the sideline area to give teams more space to distance and mask usage is now mandatory before and after games and at halftime.
The updates to the COVID-19 protocols were sent to clubs in a memo on Tuesday, a day after the league learned two players who played in games Sunday tested positive.
The league also is strongly encouraging players to wear masks whenever they come off the field and teams in intensive protocol are prohibited from holding in-person coaching and personnel meetings.
“What we are trying to convey is masks can prevent you from becoming a high-risk contact, which is our goal, so it’s in everybody’s best interest to wear a mask for their protection and again to reduce exposure,” NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills said on a conference call. “We believe that the mask use whether it’s in the locker room, on the sideline, it just reduces your chance of becoming a high-risk contact should someone turn positive.”
Ravens All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey confirmed he was one of the positive cases who played Sunday. Results from pregame tests aren’t immediately available. Sills said if the league learns someone is positive during a game that person would be removed from the game or sideline.
Baltimore added seven players to the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, including starting linebackers Matthew Judon, Patrick Queen and L.J. Fort. Linebackers Malik Harrison and Tyus Bowser also went on the list along with starting safety DeShon Elliott and defensive back Terrell Bonds.
The Green Bay Packers placed running back AJ Dillon on the list Monday after he tested positive, and added running back Jamaal Williams and linebacker Kamal Martin to the list as high-risk, close contacts on Tuesday.
The Chicago Bears placed right guard Germain Ifedi and backup tackle Jason Spriggs on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. And the Lions added linebacker Jarrad Davis to the reserve/COVID-19 list.
The Denver Broncos said Tuesday that John Elway, the team’s general manager, and team President Joe Ellis tested positive. The Broncos said both have minor symptoms and will continue to work from home and in self-isolation, adding that contact tracing measures show that no players or coaches came into close contact with either Elway or Ellis recently.
The sideline area will stretch from one 20-yard line to the other.
“Our focus and efforts really continue to be limiting those exposures, particularly for the high-risk, close contacts,” said Dawn Aponte, the NFL’s chief football administrative officer. “And as we said before, those high-risk close contacts are really things that are within the club’s control and individual’s control.”
Sills said of the 130-plus positive cases reported among players and staff, one person required hospitalization.