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NFL makes changes to sideline to discourage coronavirus spread

In an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on game day, the NFL is expanding each team’s bench area to run between both 20-yard lines to encourage social distancing.

Lions players gather on the sideline. The NFL added new guidelines to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Lions players gather on the sideline. The NFL added new guidelines to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
AP

In an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on game day, the NFL is expanding each team’s bench area to run between both 20-yard lines to encourage social distancing.

The league sent a memo to teams Tuesday requesting that players wear masks while standing on the sideline — and requiring all players to wear masks while jogging off the field at the end of the game.

Face-to-face interactions between players on both teams after the game are higher-risk than anything that happens on the field of play, said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer.

“What we are trying to convey and say is, masks can prevent you from becoming a high-risk contact, which is our goal,” Sills said.

The league reported two game-day positive coronavirus tests this past weekend. The Ravens had what the NFL referred to as six high-risk close contacts, while the other had one. League rules mandate that close contacts isolate away from the team for five days, and are tested daily.

The NFL had already banned jersey exchanges between players on the field immediately after the final whistle, hoping that it would discourage interaction.

The league has had 130 positive cases, between players coaches and staff, since July. One person was hospitalized.