NBA tightens COVID-19 protocols as positive tests and game postponements mount

Under new protocols, when a basketball club is on the road, players and team staff are banned from leaving the hotel, except for team activities or emergencies, or interacting with non-team guests.

Agence France-Presse January 13, 2021 09:13:05 IST
NBA tightens COVID-19 protocols as positive tests and game postponements mount

The wednesday's game between the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic was suspended due to rising cases of COVID-19. AP

The NBA and its players union updated COVID-19 health and safety protocols on Tuesday as positive tests and game postponements mounted.

The Washington Wizards' home game against the Utah Jazz scheduled for Wednesday was postponed on Tuesday night, the sixth game to be scrubbed in the three-week old season.

Earlier on Tuesday the league said Wednesday's game between the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic would be postponed. Boston's scheduled Tuesday clash at Chicago had already been wiped out as contact tracing and isolation left the Celtics with too few players to take the floor.

The league said Tuesday night that contact tracing among the Wizards would leave the team with less than the required eight players to face the Jazz.

Amid the burgeoning cases, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced tighter restrictions for players aimed at stemming the spread of coronavirus , as the United States remained in the grip of the pandemic.

The new measures were imposed "in response to the surge of COVID-19 cases across the country and an uptick among NBA teams requiring potential player quarantines," a league statement said.

For at least the next two weeks, players and team staffers are required to remain at their residence at all times when the club is at home except to attend team-related activities, exercise outside or perform essential activities, except in extraordinary circumstances.

Interactions away from the NBA club are limited to household members, family and any personal staff working regularly in the home.

When the club is on the road, players and team staff are banned from leaving the hotel, except for team activities or emergencies, or interacting with non-team guests.

Any pre-game meetings in the locker room are limited to no more than 10 minutes and all in attendance must wear a facemask.

All other meetings must be on the court, an NBA-approved area or at the arena in a room large enough to allow for social distancing with masks a must.

Teams must create a seating plan for flights so players with seats nearest each other on the bench during games are nearest to each other on flights.

Any hotel treatment sessions, including physical therapy and massages, must take place in a ballroom or other area allowing 12 feet between each station, with facemasks and face shields required for all involved.

No excess socializing 

Any interactions between players before and after games are limited to elbow or fist bumps with social distancing maintained as much as possible and "extended socializing" to be avoided.

Players must wear facemasks on the bench at all times and must enter and exit games through "cool down chairs" at least 12 feet from the bench where masking is not required.

Coaches and other team staff must wear facemasks at all times during games.

Anyone regularly visiting a players home for a professional activity, such as a trainer, must undergo COVID-19 testing twice a week.

For teams with a positive player or high-risk staff member case, the NBA can require players and staff to undergo five consecutive days of twice-a-day lab COVID-19 testing in addition to usual daily testing.

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