Alabama reinstates old COVID safety protocols ahead of playoffs amid new surge

·2 min read

COVID-19 and the new Omicron variant have been raging throughout the sports world like never before in recent weeks.

So, with the College Football Playoff right around the corner, Nick Saban said that No. 1 Alabama has returned to its original coronavirus safety protocols from the beginning of the pandemic.

The team, which is more than 90% vaccinated, all wears masks inside the team facility and practices social distancing during meetings.

Though inconvenient, Saban said his players are onboard with the new measures.

"They're really kind of bought in to do everything they can to stay safe," Saban said Monday. "There's no guarantee, so we want to use every protocol we can to help them stay safe."

The Crimson Tide will take on No. 4 Cincinnati in the College Football Playoff semifinals on Dec. 31 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Alabama is listed as a -13.5 point favorite over Cincinnati on BetMGM.

As of Monday afternoon, the United States is averaging more than 133,000 new cases of the coronavirus each day, according to The New York Times, which is a 21% increase over the past two weeks and a figure that hasn’t been seen since mid-September. Federal officials said Monday that the Omicron variant is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the United States, and that more than 70% of new cases are credited to Omicron. About 71% of Americans aged 12 and up are fully vaccinated.

The latest wave of outbreaks has caused the NFL, NBA, NHL, college basketball and other leagues to postpone games in recent days.

Saban and Alabama will head to Texas on Dec. 26. Players will head home until they leave to celebrate the holidays with their families. For the break, Saban said, he is sending players a “care package with everything they need to stay safe” from the coronavirus.

"I'm always concerned when there's an issue out there, and we want to do the best we can to help our players be concerned about the issue and respect it so they have the best opportunity to stay safe,” Saban said.

Head Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama is implementing its original COVID-19 protocols ahead of the College Football Playoff. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)