The league will implement stricter COVID-19 restrictions during training camp for teams who don’t meet the threshold.
After a season of mostly empty stadiums and many COVID-19 related restrictions, the NFL hopes things will be back to normal for the 2021 campaign.
All 32 teams have gotten clearance to have their stadiums operate at full capacity next season (if guidelines remain the same), but some may still have some regulations in place. San Francisco 49ers team president Al Guido said Levi’s Stadium would welcome back fans in September.
But even though spectators should be allowed back in attendance in 2021, NFL players will still deal with some restrictions at their place of employment until they meet the 85 percent vaccination threshold mandated by the league.
With two weeks left until players are back on the field for their respective training camps, the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that only seven teams meet the vaccine requirements, meaning the other 25 squads will have to deal with some restrictions at their facilities later this month.
Monday was the deadline for players to get their second shot (or a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) to clear the window to be considered fully vaccinated.
The restrictions for non-vaccinated players — including daily testing (even during byes), masks, limits on the number of players in rooms, not being able to eat in the cafeteria, etc. — are significant. It will be interesting to see if players who have declined to get the vaccine will change course once training camps open and they see the restrictions firsthand.
It remains to be seen if the 49ers meet the requirements to enable fewer restrictions at camp. Head coach Kyle Shanahan touched on the subject in early June, which was the last update we received about how many San Francisco players had been vaccinated.
“I think we got 52 guys who have our vaccines done,” Shanahan told reporters during OTAs. “Our goal, I think, is to get — we need 85-percent, which I don’t have a calculator on me, but I think it’s 77 or something of the 90 that we have. So I’m hopeful we’ll get there. I think we will.”
Pelissero added that roughly 70 percent of NFL players have received at least one shot, but vaccination rates are plateauing across the country, so it may be a slower climb up to the 85 percent threshold.
Several NFL players, including Josh Allen and Cole Beasley of the Buffalo Bills, have spoken out against getting the vaccine.
The number of NFL players who have received at least one shot is similar to the national totals. The Center for Diseases Controls and Preventions says that roughly 68 percent of adults living in the United States have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.
Positive COVID-19 cases across the United States plummeted in May and June compared to their peaks, but there has been a slight uptick across the country in recent weeks. Although the Delta variant is believed to be responsible for the increase in positive cases, the death rate has remained relatively low.
In California, the seven-day average has climbed slightly over 2000 positive cases per day, but the numbers are more encouraging near the 49ers’ facility.
Santa Clara County’s seven-day average of positive cases is at 73 as of July 11, and more than 82 percent of residents over the age of 12 have received their first shot.
We should find out soon which seven teams meet the 85 percent requirement, but as Pelissero points out, it will be interesting to see how the players who haven’t been vaccinated proceed after seeing the restrictions at training camp.
The NFL Network reports that virtually all Tier 1 and 2 personnel — coaches and administrative staff — had previously been vaccinated.