While other NFL teams have already been allowed to return to their facilities despite the current Coronavirus pandemic, the New England Patriots remained in limbo: the Massachusetts government had yet to announce guidelines that would impact the commonwealth’s pro sports teams. This changed on Friday, however, when Gov. Charlie Baker announced that the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics etc. were allowed to return to their facilities soon.
According to Gov. Baker, the Patriots and other organizations are now allowed to join the reopening process by June 6:
We’ve had very positive conversations with our sports teams, the Celtics, the Bruins, the Patriots, the Red Sox and the Revolution. And this order will also allow professional sports teams to begin practicing at their facilities in compliance with the health and safety rules that all the leagues are developing. Facilities are still closed to the public at this time.
I know we still aren’t to the point where we’ll have our pro sports teams back playing anything yet. The leagues are obviously working hard to host games again. And I think we all hope at some point opening practice facilities will help make that happen a little sooner. There’s just so many times you can actually watch the Patriots beat the Falcons, or the Celtics beat the Lakers, or the Bruins beat the Canucks, or the Red Sox beat the Yankees or the Cardinals or the Angels. At some point, it has got to be live.
While it remains to be seen how or when fans will be allowed to return to the stadium, Baker’s announcement on Friday is good news for the Patriots and the NFL as a whole: Massachusetts was one of the states that had yet to communicate clear rules about returning professional teams to their facilities — a hurdle that has been cleared. This means that the Patriots are now in a position to adhere to the league’s latest plans.
After all, the NFL announced earlier this week that coaching staffs might potentially return to work as early as next week, and that minicamp practices could be held soon thereafter. It now appears as if the Patriots are well on their way to be a part of this process, even though the process in general will depend on local regulations all over the country: only if all clubs can return to facilities will they be allowed to actually do so.