The Vikings have reopened their team facility in Eagan to 60 employees who are reporting voluntarily. Players and coaches will continue to work remotely for now.
The team announced its plans for reopening its headquarters on Monday morning, nearly three months after the facility was closed because of COVID-19 concerns. Staff members who work onsite will wear masks when not in private offices and be subject to daily temperature checks before entering the facility.
The Vikings said they have closed conference rooms, set up staggered work shifts and established an infection response team.
Employees returning to the facility have “completed training and a health survey,” the team said in a statement, and have been prioritized to work onsite because “of their need to access the facility to effectively complete their job duties.”
The Vikings closed TCO Performance Center to employees on March 13, a day after announcing they suspended travel for scouts and coaches as the novel coronavirus brought the sports world to a sudden standstill.
When they do reopen the facility to players, they will have to work within the guidelines the NFL and NFL Players Association established in a memo to teams on Sunday.
The league and union will require players and staff to wear masks in the facility unless doing so interferes with athletic-related tasks, and will order the reconfiguring of locker rooms so players’ lockers are at least 6 feet apart. These social distancing requirements in locker rooms — even for a team like the Vikings, who have one of the league’s newest and largest practice facilities — could present teams with logistical challenges, especially in training camp, when teams have 90 players on the roster.
Under the new NFL-NFLPA requirements, teams must limit strength and conditioning workouts to 15 players, stagger players’ appointments with athletic trainers, disinfect helmets and shoulder pads after every practice or game, and conduct team meetings virtually or outdoors when possible. Players also must disinfect high-touch items like keys or cellphones before entering the facility.
The requirements restrict access to areas like locker rooms, training rooms, weight rooms, player lounges and fields to team personnel through a series of groups. Tier 1 includes essential personnel like players, coaches, athletic trainers, doctors and head equipment managers.
Tier 2 personnel — like the general manager and ownership representatives — must wear personal protective equipment or keep physical distance between themselves and Tier 1 people.
Tier 3 people (like field managers, cleaning crews, stadium and broadcast personnel) are allowed in restricted areas only when Tier 1 people are not present.
All players and team personnel with access to restricted areas must undergo daily testing “under the applicable protocol” and a health questionnaire, according to the memo.
The Vikings said in their statement they will “follow future guidelines set by state and local public health officials and the NFL while focusing on the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and broader community” as they determine when to bring more people back to their facility.