NFL Expands Bench Area, Tightens Game-Day Mask Requirements

The NFL is expanding the team bench area and tightening mask requirements on game days after two players infected with COVID-19 exposed at least eight others via close contact Sunday.

The bench area will now span 60 yards along the sideline, from one 20-yard line to the other, to encourage better physical distancing among players and coaches. The league is also mandating face coverings for all players during pregame and postgame interactions, either on the field or in the locker room, and strongly recommending their use on the sideline for any player “not participating on the field or about to enter the game,” according to a memo distributed Tuesday to teams.

Those actions followed contact tracing performed after Green Bay Packers running back AJ Dillon and Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey returned positive tests performed Sunday morning. The league determined that two Packers players had “high-risk” close contact with Dillon, and at least six from the Ravens had it with Humphrey. As a result, they must isolate from the team for five days.

NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills says face coverings and physical distancing on game day are key parts of the decision to classify a close contact as high-risk.

Source: ESPN