USATSI

The NFL is making changes to its coronavirus protocol. The league sent out a memo on Tuesday that stated that teams’ sideline bench areas — where face masks must be worn — will now extend from one 20-yard line to the other rather than the 30-yard line to the other 30. In addition, the NFL will also require players to wear face masks during any postgame interactions, such as interviews or speaking with other players.

“We’re trying to double down on (preventing) high-risk close contacts during game day,” NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said on Tuesday. “Our No. 1 priority is the health and safety of everyone involved,” Sills added. “We want to be as safe as possible and that’s why we go through the detailed exercise of contact tracing. That’s why we go through the detailed exercise of identifying high-risk contacts. We continue to consider that every one of our 32 clubs are vulnerable to infection every single day we’re in business, just like all of us are in the country right now and we have to be extremely vigilant in the measures that we know right now mitigate risks.”

On Wednesday, one day after the NFL announced the changes, the 49ers shut down their facility due to COVID-19 test results. For now, they are still set to host the Packers on Thursday Night Football.

The NFL initial changed the rules after Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey took a COVID-19 test, played against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday and then on Monday got a positive test result back. There were six Ravens players that were considered high-risk due to their close contact with Humphrey and now they’re forced to quarantine for five days. Couple that news with the latest from the 49ers, and its evident why the NFL is enforcing these new face mask rules.

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