NFL instructs clubs to close team facilities

Los Angeles (AFP) –


NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has instructed clubs to close all team facilities, stepping up league efforts to combat the spread of new coronavirus.

According to a memo sent to all league clubs and reported on, the shutdowns will continue to at least April 8.

Goodell told the teams the rules are meant to "ensure that all clubs operate on a level playing field, and that the NFL continues to conduct itself in a responsible way at this time."

All NFL clubs had already suspended normal business operations and barred players from team facilities unless they were there to receive medical treatment.

Most if not all clubs had a limited number of staff working in their offices even as health authorities around the United States recommended people stay at home in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

Now Goodell has told clubs that from Wednesday night the only personnel allowed at team facilities will be those providing ongoing medical treatment to players, and those required to maintain the security and operational capabilities of the facilities.

Teams will still be free to conduct the signing of players, long-distance evaluation of draft prospects, ticket sales and other tasks preparing for the 2020 season.

"The challenges we face are not unique -- many businesses and individuals throughout the country are experiencing and addressing similar issues," Goodell said. "Please be assured that the NFL is well-positioned to meet these operational challenges as we prepare to offer our fans and the country an outstanding 2020 NFL season."

The annual NFL draft of new talent is still scheduled to take place April 23-24, although the public events surrounding the selection process that had been planned in Las Vegas have been cancelled.

The 2020 NFL season is due to begin on September 10.