NBA issues COVID protocols to teams, details rules for unvaccinated players

The NBA released interim health and safety protocols to its teams on Tuesday, detailing how unvaccinated players will be tested much more often than their vaccinated colleagues and face many other restrictions.

Among the rules for unvaccinated players: they will not be able to eat in the same room with vaccinated teammates or staff, must have lockers as far as possible from vaccinated players, and must remain masked and at least six feet away from everyone. other participants in any team meeting.

Additionally, unvaccinated players will be “required to stay at home when in their home market,” they told teams in the draft regulations, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. They will also need to stay at team hotels while on the road. In either case, there are limited allowed exceptions – like going grocery shopping, taking the kids to school, etc.

And unvaccinated players will also not be allowed to visit “high-risk establishments,” the NBA said, such as restaurants, bars, clubs, entertainment venues and large indoor gatherings.

The league is working with the National Basketball Players Association to finalize protocols, but some details were agreed upon weeks ago – including provisions that unvaccinated players will be tested during all practices, travel, team activities. and match days. Fully vaccinated players will not be tested, with a few exceptions.

Fully vaccinated players – the category in which at least 90% of the league is located – will largely be back to their normal activities. Unvaccinated players will receive rapid tests on days when teams train, travel or host similar team events, and will need lab tests on match days.

“A vaccination mandate for NBA players would require an agreement with the Players Association,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said on Tuesday. “The NBA made these proposals but the players’ union rejected any vaccination requirements.”

The NBPA later responded by celebrating the 90% vaccination rate and how it exceeds the national percentage. “The real story is not why vaccination is not mandatory in the NBA. The real story for vaccination supporters is how to emulate NBA players, ”union executive director Michele Roberts said.

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers says he doesn’t want to tell people what to do about vaccinations. But James – who has more than 50 million followers on Twitter and nearly 100 million on Instagram – revealed on Tuesday that he was vaccinated. And like many other big names in the NBA such as Damian Lillard of Portland, Lakers teammate Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee, James has said he got the punches to keep his family safe.

“I think everyone has their own choice of doing what they think is right for themselves and their family and things of that nature,” James said. “I know I was very (skeptical) about all of this. But after doing my research and things of that nature, I felt it was best suited not only for me but also for my family and friends. And, you know, that’s why I decided to do it.

Some of the best players in the NBA, including Bradley Beal of Washington and Andrew Wiggins of Golden State, have said they are still unvaccinated. Phoenix star Devin Booker missed the start of camp because he tested positive, revealing this over the weekend but not saying if he was vaccinated. Others, like Kyrie Irving of Brooklyn – a vice president of the NBPA – have also refused to disclose their immunization status, although Irving not attending the Nets media day in person on Monday clearly suggests that he remains unvaccinated.

Irving trained with the Nets on Tuesday in San Diego, where they are hosting training camp.

The status of Wiggins and Irving is particularly thorny since local ordinances in San Francisco and New York would require them to be vaccinated or benefit from a league exception – Wiggins has already tried and failed – in order to play in home games, which is obviously half the program. Irving is expected to make around $ 35 million this season, Wiggins nearly $ 32 million.

The difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated players will also govern the rules around what happens when contact tracing reports a player as potentially exposed to someone positive for COVID-19, the NBA has told the teams.

Those who are fully vaccinated will not be required to quarantine themselves in most cases, but will need seven days of testing. Unvaccinated players reported by contact tracing will need to be quarantined for seven days.

The NBA and the players are still working on some final topics, all with the hope that this season – unlike last year – won’t see waves of game postponements or players missing for long periods of time because of the virus. The remaining topics include what would trigger the need to test fully vaccinated players.

Some rules from last season will still apply, at least to start this season. All players and staff, regardless of their immunization status, are required to wear masks in almost all situations inside team facilities, on the move and on the bench during games. The bench rule will not apply to head coaches, who are not required to mask themselves during matches.

Additionally, it had previously been agreed that anyone near the players – stats staff, team attendants, even NBA referees – should be vaccinated.

About Marc Womack

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