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A few COVID-related changes to officiating announced

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The NFL is postponing a rule that was supposed to be tested in the preseason and also relaxing a few other rules for officials in 2020.

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network has reported several key changes to how games will be officiated in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a series of tweets, Pelissero noted how things will operate differently for officials this season.

1. Delaying of expansion of booth-to-official communication

In a rule that was adopted this offseason, the NFL had planned to test an expansion of the booth-to-official communication during the preseason. Well, since there won’t be any preseason games, this experiment is being scrapped for 2020.

2. Electronic whistles to be used

This is probably a good idea given how easily the coronavirus spreads via mouth. I hate to say it, but we’ll probably see the first electronic whistle failure during a primetime game. You know it’s going to happen.

3. Officials will be allowed to cover the same team more than twice in a season

To be honest, I didn’t know this was a rule. However, given there could be situations where officials either test positive for COVID-19 or must be quarantined due to exposure, the NFL has decided to relax this rule for 2020.

4. Preparation for 5-6 man mechanics

Even with that rule relaxed, there could be situations where officiating crews are down some bodies on gameday and will be preparing to run with skeleton crews for games.

There are likely more changes coming about, but this is what Pelissero is reporting as of this writing. NFL Sunday’s are going to look a little different in 2020.

5. A bigger focus on local officiating crews

This one is huge. To cut down on airport time, the NFL is looking at an increased focus on geography to determine which games officials are assigned to in 2020.