The National Football League and its players association have suspended "all aspects" of their joint COVID-19 protocols effective immediately, according to a memo to clubs obtained by Reuters.
The move ends the league's mandatory surveillance testing of players and staff, as well as mask-wearing requirements in club facilities regardless of vaccination status, citing "encouraging trends" and recent guidance from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Last week, the CDC dramatically eased its COVID-19 guidelines for masks, with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky indicating the U.S. is in "a stronger place today."
The NFL said in its memo that it remained incumbent upon all individuals in the league to monitor and self-report any symptoms on a daily basis. Those who test positive must isolate for five days.
"We will continue to prioritize the health and safety of players, coaches and staff, as we have throughout the pandemic," the memo read.
"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 league's COVID-19 health and safety plan came about ahead of the 2020 season in consultation with medical experts, public health officials and state and local governments.
League officials occasionally ramped up protocols to meet the evolving challenges of the deadly pandemic.
The NFL introduced new measures as recently as December, when a surge of new cases led to mandatory mask wearing regardless of vaccination status and the elimination of in-person meals.
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