As COVID-19 cases surge across the country and rise around the league, the NFL announced stricter sideline mask mandates in a memo to clubs Monday.
Beginning with Thursday’s slate of games, all player not entering the game or wearing a helmet will be required to wear a mask or gaiter on the sideline.
New memo from the NFL:— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) November 24, 2020
Starting this Thursday, all players are required to wear masks on the sideline; coaches will no longer be allowed to wear just a face shield, and post-game interactions will be severely limited pic.twitter.com/WkwuVBUEDF
Similar to how multiple head coaches were punished at the start of the season for violating the mask protocol, players will also now be punished for failing to comply.
“Players who fail to wear masks on the sidelines will be subject to discipline,” the league said in Monday’s memo. “Clubs are required to enforce these rules. Violations by players and/or staff will result in accountability measures being imposed upon the Club.”
In additions, coaches will no longer be allowed to wear a face shield in lieu, as they will also be required to have a mask or gaiter on underneath it.
Lastly, the league will further limit postgame interactions between players, which was already a point of emphasis within the protocols when the season started. Players will be allowed to “briefly” engage with opponents following the completion of games, but will be required to wear face covering while they do so.
The league also encouraged clubs to designate members of each organization as enforcers of the updates policies.
The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving night, who shut down their practice facility Monday following multiple cases within the organization, including running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins.