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Fans will have to wear masks at NFL games this season — if there is a season with a live audience

Pro football's kickoff is set for Sept. 10, but nothing is certain as the coronavirus continues its deadly spread.
Former Miami Dolphins player Nat Moore wears a mask while taking a photo of guests at a tribute procession for coach Don Shula in Miami Gardens, Fla., on May 22, 2020 .
Former Miami Dolphins player Nat Moore wears a mask while taking a photo of guests at a tribute procession for coach Don Shula in Miami Gardens, Fla., on May 22, 2020 .Wilfredo Lee / AP

NFL fans attending games — assuming there's a 2020 season and spectators are allowed inside stadiums — will have to wear facial coverings, the league said Wednesday.

Brian McCarthy, the NFL's vice president of communications, tweeted a photo of himself wearing a mask and telling fans this would be necessary equipment at any pro football games this fall and early winter.

"For those wondering, yes, it is league-wide: fans at NFL games this season will be required to wear face coverings," he said.

Local governments would still have the last word on games and fans.

"Decisions on the number of fans at stadiums will be determined on a market-by-market basis with guidance from public health experts and in accordance with local and state guidelines," McCarthy said in a statement to NBC News.

"There’s no one set figure that will work across all teams which are located in various states. The league is working closely with each of the clubs to ensure their plans are in compliance."

For example, the New York Giants and Jets — two teams that play in East Rutherford, New Jersey — have already told fans that their home 2020 schedule will begin with no fans inside MetLife Stadium, citing orders from Gov. Phil Murphy.

The first regular-season game is supposed to be on Sept. 10, between the Houston Texans and the Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs.

But with the coronavirus pandemic still raging across America, it's an open question whether pro football can be played at all this upcoming fall.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers and Chiefs have already made radical adjustments to their 2020 ticketing plans in anticipation of restricted capacity for this upcoming season.

Some of pro football's top players went on what appeared to be a coordinated social media blitz on Sunday, questioning the league's safety protocols.

Several top college conferences have nixed or severely dialed back fall football, while high schools in California, New Mexico and Washington D.C. have already scrapped gridiron action for this fall.