NFL loosening many COVID restrictions for vaccinated players

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FILE – In this Nov. 4, 2018 file photo, the NFL logo is displayed on the field at the Bank of American Stadium before an NFL football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C. The NFL revealed Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, that several positive COVID-19 tests were found a day earlier by one of its testing partners, and the Chicago Bears said they had nine false positives. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond, File)

NEW YORK — The NFL and NFL Players Association have updated COVID-19 protocols to loosen restrictions for fully vaccinated players and to encourage others to get the vaccine.

Unvaccinated players must continue to get daily testing, wear masks and practice physical distancing. They won’t be allowed to eat meals with teammates, can’t participate in media or marketing activities while traveling, aren’t permitted to use the sauna or steam room and may not leave the team hotel or interact with people outside the team while traveling.

Vaccinated players will not have any of those restrictions, according to a memo sent to teams on Wednesday that was obtained by The Associated Press.

Media access to the press box, field and sidelines, locker room and postgame interview room will be available only to media members who are fully vaccinated.

Several players have expressed concerns about receiving the vaccine. The updated protocols give them more incentive to get it.

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