NBA, NBPA update COVID-19 health and safety protocols


In light of multiple positive COVID-19 tests, close contact quarantines and game postponements in recent days, the NBA and NBPA jointly announced updates to its health and safety protocols on Tuesday.

  • Extracurricular life: For "at least the next two weeks," players and staff are being mandated to stay home except for team engagements, outdoor exercise or "essential" activities. As for the people outside of the team construct players are allowed to interact with? Basically, just household members (i.e. family).

The release also says that, when on the road, players are prohibited from leaving their hotel except for team activities and emergencies, and inviting "non-team guests" to the hotel. The implication is that the latter was being allowed before.

  • Pregame meetings: Another slapped with the disclaimer of: "For at least the next two weeks." Pregame locker room meetings are now required to endure no longer than 10 minutes, with all parties wearing masks. Participants in any other type of team meeting are also required to wear masks and maintain six feet of distance.
  • Travel: Seating maps on flights must mirror seating arrangements on team benches during games. Masks and distancing required during any treatment players undergo on the road.
  • In game: Players are to use elbow and fist bumps only, and maintain six feet of distance when possible, in outside-the-game interactions. Players also can't arrive at their respective arenas more than three hours before tipoff.
  • Masks: Players and coaches required to wear facemasks at all times while on the sideline during games (this was always a rule, but coaches, especially, have often been sighted pulling masks down when speaking or barking). That applies in the locker room, during strength and conditioning training and travel as well. The one exception: There will be things called "cool down chairs" positioned 12 feet from team benches for players to rest in between exiting a game and returning to their team's bench, without a mask.
  • Testing: Any team staff members that regularly make house calls for players must be tested twice per week.

With these additional measures, the league clearly hopes to stymie its swelling outbreak without significant shuffling to what games already scheduled. The result is essentially traveling bubbles.

The tenability of said plans -- and the season, in general -- remains to be seen.

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