This per Ryan Mink of the Ravens’ PR staff:
Due to Maryland regulations, the Ravens have been determined to be a non-essential business, and Gov. Larry Hogan’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions on Friday did not affect the Ravens’ status.
Thus, the Ravens will remain closed until the governor permits otherwise. Nobody knows when that will be, but the Ravens have the start of training camp – typically the third week of July – as their target date. That means about two months away.
“If the infection rate is really low, as I expect it will be by late summer, and we have adequate testing, and people are careful when they leave the building, I think there’s a really good shot that we’ll be OK,” President Dick Cass told “The Lounge” Monday.
Right now, there’s a very small crew of people (maintenance, cleaning, grounds, and medical personnel for a few rehabbing players) who are permitted to be at the Under Armour Performance Center.
Even if the Ravens were permitted to open under the NFL’s new guidelines, there wouldn’t be much action taken. Cass does not feel the Ravens are at any disadvantage to the rest of the league by not being one of the teams opening. Players and coaches would still not be allowed back.
“It would be great to have our players back, but I don’t see that happening really any time soon,” Cass said, adding that players are meeting with their coaches digitally at this time.
“My understanding from talking to [Head Coach] John [Harbaugh] and others is that those meetings are going OK. They wouldn’t be much better if the players were remote and the coaches were in the office rather than in their homes.”
Cass hopes to have some more people back in the building before training camp to test out the team’s newly adopted health and safety protocol, which was sent to every team employee Monday afternoon. That way the organization can test the protocol and tweak if needed. But even then, there wouldn’t be more than 25 people in the building at one time.
“It’s a very small number of people from now until training camp,” Cass said. “Even when training camp opens, I’m going to urge everyone who can continue to work remotely to continue to do that. There’s no reason for people to go to an office building unless you have to.”
For those who do return to the Under Armour Performance Center for training camp, it will be dramatically different.
Even before entering the premises, people will have their temperature taken and be required to answer a series of questions at a guard station. Their temperature will be taken again as they walk into the main lobby and they will be required to sanitize their hands.
Six feet of social distancing will be in full effect and every person in the building will be required to wear a mask. Break rooms, restrooms and other high-traffic areas may be occupied by only one person at a time.
The team’s non-football personnel (those who do not need to interact with players to perform their job) will be separated from the team completely. That means no more shared meals in the dining room, etc.
These restrictions won’t just be in place at the start of the year. Cass said he expects the team will encourage all employees who do not need to be at the Under Armour Performance Center to work remotely throughout the entire 2020 season.
What’s going to make training camp, and a season, possible is improved and more widespread testing. Cass said he’s more confident today than a month ago that testing will be plentiful and effective enough.
“We believe by the time of training camp, we’ll be able to test players and coaches, and those who meet together a lot, multiple times a week and be able to get results fairly quickly,” Cass said.
Cass stressed that the team’s top priority is the safety of its players, coaches, staff and everyone else that enters the building. In order to have a safer building, everybody has to do their part outside of it to lower the chances of asymptomatically bringing the disease inside.
“The one thing that I’m confident of is that unless we and the Players Association and the league believe we can do this safely, I don’t think we’ll do it. I just have confidence that we can make this work,” Cass said.
The Ravens expect they will be able to hold training camp at the Under Armour Performance Center, but Cass said “things would have to improve dramatically for us to even think about [having fans] at this point.”
For now, the Ravens and the NFL will look toward the German soccer league, Bundesliga, as an example to learn from, as well as Major League Baseball if/when it launches its season. The Under Armour Performance Center was closed about two months ago and there’s still two months until training camp would open. A lot will change between now and then.
“It’s hard to know exactly what it’s going to look like,” Cass said. “I’m so excited about this season. We’re a legitimate contender this season. Everyone knows that, we know that. … It’s going to be a great year. We’ve just got to get it going.”
But knowing exactly when to get it going is a critical matter, and right now time is on the side of the virus.