NBA sends memo detailing covid protocols for 2021/22
The NBA season is set to tip off in less than a month, and the league and NBA Players Association have detailed the covid requirements for the season.
The NBA sent a league-wide memo detailing covid protocols for the upcoming season after discussions with the NBA Players Association on Tuesday.
Vaccinated player to be allowed more freedom this season
The protocols will have unvaccinated players under a similar umbrella of restrictions they had to abide by over the course of the last year when the vaccine wasn’t readily available.
Players who choose to get the vaccine will have far more freedom. One of the main changes from last year for the vaccinated players and staff who work within 15 feet of other players, coaches and referees will not be subject to daily testing.
The only time a test would be required for a player that has already got the covid shot will be when they are either feeling symptoms, have been in close contact with someone who tested positive, or if it’s required by league physicians due to a circumstance that could put others in jeopardy.
Daily testing awaits those who refuse the vaccine
Unvaccinated players will be forced into getting tested on a daily basis before entering the team facility, participating in team-organized events and interacting with players and staff. Game day lab-based testing will also be administered as it was last year, to prevent the spread of the virus from team to team.
The social aspect of everyday life on an NBA team will be affected to those who refuse the vaccination. Players that don’t get the shot will be prohibited from dining indoors at the same time as any other player or Tier 1 staff member. Six feet of distance from any person wether it be a teammate a staff member or anyone else will be required at all times, and face masks will be mandatory. And unvaccinated players will have to have a section in the locker room reserved just for them to ensure that they don’t come in close contact with other players, staff members or media members.
Outside of basketball facilities, unvaccinated players will be required to remain at their houses when not on road trips, and when they are on road trips they will be made to stay in the team hotel. The only exceptions to these mandates are when a player must leave on account of team activities or essential activities such as grocery shopping, or taking their children to school.
Social activities limited for unvaccinated players
Social gatherings at restaurants, bars, clubs and entertainment venues will be off limits for those who are unvaccinated. And players will be allowed to have in-person interactions with a “limited number of close personal guests” who aren’t family. Those guests will have to be tested before they meet with the unvaccinated player.
Quarantines were also mentioned in the memo. The NBA has stated that those who have already been vaccinated will not have to go through a quarantine unless their are “unusual circumstances” although rapid testing will be required for the seven days following.
All unvaccinated players with be required to go into a seven day quarantine if they are exposed to someone who has tested positive.
Facemasks will still be worn by all
Facemasks will be required in most settings for both vaccinated and unvaccinated players alike. Players will be required to cover their mouths when at team facilities, when traveling with the team, any time on the road that they are not in their hotel, and where ever else is required under state, federal and local laws.
The only times players will be able to take their masks off will be during basketball activities, while showering and while eating and drinking. Head coaches will not be required to wear facemarks on the sidelines either.
A final agreement has yet to be reached, with issues concerning what testing fully vaccinated players will have to go through in the course of the season, and what activities fully vaccinated players will be allowed to part take in out side of team facilities and team activities.
Around 90% of NBA players are vaccinated, but there are still a handful who aren’t. Washington Wizards star scorer Bradley Beal said he is yet to get the vaccine, and Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has been very vocal about his stance on the opinion.
Irving did not participate in the Nets media day due to an order in New York that that requires anyone in a gym to have at least one covid-19 shot. San Francisco executive orders require anyone who walks into a gym, including the Chase Center (home of the Golden State Warriors) to be vaccinated as well.