“We’re definitely looking forward to getting our players back in the building and playing football this fall,” said Joe Sheehan, Senior Vice President of Player Health and Development for the Cleveland Browns.
Sheehan said, while the team is awaiting further guidance from the NFL, it’s scheduled to start training camp on July 28.
“We continue to work with the NFL and NFLPA, and we’re continuing to wait on that guidance of when training starts and players back in the building,” Sheehan said.
He said more than 50 Browns staff members are back to work at the team’s Berea headquarters, where they’re screened upon entry, asked to wear masks, wash their hands and maintain social distancing.
As players return, Sheehan said they will be training under new protocols, with an emergency action plan in place in case anyone tests positive for COVID-19.
“We’re going to screen, there’s going to be frequent testing, we’re going to ask employees and players to wear masks whenever possible,” Sheehan said. “We’re really going to ask them to stay six feet apart whenever possible. We are going to limit group size to the extent we can and do our best to mitigate the spread of the virus.”
The team developed its plans in conjunction with doctors and health experts from University Hospitals. UH Community Reactivation Director Dr. Joan Zoltanski said screening is particularly important before players hit the field, where social distancing is not possible.
“In locker rooms, we’re talking about using every other locker, not having as many people in there,” said UH Community Reactivation Director Dr. Joan Zoltanski. “Cleaning the equipment, cleaning areas on their practice field, their locker rooms, where they’re working out, high touch surfaces.”
UH developed a Healthy Restart Playbook with steps for businesses to safely reopen. It’s available for free download online, and the health system said it has been downloaded more than 1,500 times so far.
“We really worked to translate our expertise for their area of business and public spaces, those types of things,” Zoltanski said.
It remains unclear whether fans will be able to attend training camp or watch Browns games in person this season. Sheehan said the team will follow the guidance of the league and government officials as the season approaches.