NBA players and staffers received a new set of health and safety protocols for the 2020-2021 season amid growing Covid-19 pandemic concerns. The NBA was successfully able to carry out the remainder of the 2019-2020 season using a bubble method in which all players and staffers were isolated from the rest of the world at a singular location in Disney, Florida.
The sporting league was able to finish the season without one coronavirus case appearing thanks to this method. Now, the new set of procedures is relatively similar to what they faced for the previous season, however, now that the country has been enduring the pandemic for a while longer, the procedures are more specified and strictly written.
Players and staff members are prohibited from visiting any bars or clubs under the new guidelines, which before was more of a universally understood practice. While players, coaches, and other staff are at home and awaiting future games they are prohibited from entering into any bars, clubs, live entertainment venues, public gyms, spas, or indoor gatherings of 15 or more people, according to the memo sent out.
These procedures seem like they should just be common sense at this point, however, in a country where health and safety measures vary in every state, it’s important to strictly enforce the policies that will help curb the spread of this deadly virus. While on the road players can only eat outside of their hotel if it’s at a location approved by the league.
The memo stated that any team that violates these safety protocols could face penalties like “fines, suspensions, adjustment or loss of draft choices, and/or game forfeiture.” Players who miss games will be asked to quarantine and could be subject to pay adjustments if their quarantining is a result of breaking the rules.
While the NBA was extremely successful in their bubble method for the 2019-2020 season, the next season will look differently. The season begins on December 22nd with teams playing games in their home arenas and traveling as well. Many teams have already committed to playing without any fans in the stands until further notice.
The memo itself, which was sent out this past week, was 158 pages long, and states that “it is likely that some staff, players and other participants in the 2020-21 season nonetheless will test positive or contract COVID-19 particularly as the virus remains prevalent in particular team markets and surrounding communities. However, the occurrence of independent cases (cases not spread among players or team staff) or a small or otherwise expected number of COVID-19 cases will not require a decision to suspend or cancel the 2020-21 season.”
The memo also went into what the future of the season would look like should a vaccine be distributed in the spring to the general public; as currently projected. The NBA and NBA Players Association, in that case, will then meet and decide whether or not it will require its players and staffers to receive a Covid-19 vaccination when it becomes available.
If the vaccination is not made to be mandatory, the NBA claimed that further health and safety procedures will be implemented until a greater herd immunity is met in the US. Players will also be consistently tested before and after every game, practice, or any other situation in which they’re interacting with others working for the league.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.