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Packers Hall of Fame postpones induction of Charles Woodson, Al Harris amid coronavirus

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Last week, the Packers and Hall of Fame took a wait-and-see approach, but as concerns over COVID-19 grew, extensive efforts have been taken to keep staff and the community safe, including pushing back one of the cornerstone offseason events.

Oakland Raiders v Green Bay Packers
Charles Woodson will have to wait for his induction into the Packers Hall of Fame, after the induction ceremony was postponed due to coronavirus fears.
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19, the 50th Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame banquet will be postponed, executive director Sam Kluck tells APC. The Packers and Hall of Fame Inc. later announced the move. A new date will be in August, based on the team’s preseason schedule, Kluck says.

Last week, the team and Hall of Fame Inc. took a wait-and-see approach with the coronavirus, but as numbers burgeoned across the country, the NBA and other sports leagues temporarily shut down, the Packers closed their public-facing businesses and took their coaches and scouts off the road to do their part in virus spread prevention.

Those plans immediately impacted operations, but the original Hall of Fame banquet, to owner inductees Charles Woodson and Al Harris, wasn’t set to take place until April 18, giving the Hall time to make a decision based on the facts at the time. Kluck told APC, they intended to give it a week and decide, giving rise to Tuesday’s announcement.

The NFL continued with the league’s new year opening on time, and announced Monday it would alter the free agent process to mitigate potential dangers arising from normal travel operations in the offseason. For example, players will be allowed to get physicals locally to avoid having to travel to team doctors after signing new contracts.

April’s NFL draft will also go on as schedule the league announced earlier in the week, though there will not be public fan events in Las Vegas. Those draft parties and public viewing areas were expected to draw some 700,000 fans. States around the country have limited gatherings, some to as few as 10 people, as the CDC has suggested, making a public draft untenable.

Wisconsin governor Tony Evers banned public gatherings over 50, closed public schools, and mandated bars and restaurants to go to 50 patrons or 50% capacity, whichever is smaller. The annual Hall of Fame banquet draws between 900 and 1,000 people including former players, coaches, and Packers staff.