The NBA is tightening up its health and safety guidelines for the 2020-21 season. A week after sending out a 134-page memo detailing new COVID-19 policies, the NBA sent out a longer, revised list of protocols for players and staff members this season.
The new 158-page memo details what players can and cannot do when they are not at their team’s facility. Under the new guidelines, Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals will be prohibited from going to bars, clubs or indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people.
Each team can designate up to 45 people as Tier 1 individuals. That list will include players and designated on-court staff like coaches or trainers. Tier 2 will consist of any team staff member who will regularly interact with Tier 1 individuals, but can do so while following social distancing guidelines and wearing a mask. Tier 2 might consist of team staff members, medical staff who don’t need to get close to players and food service workers, among others.
Players, staff and family members will receive regular COVID tests
Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals will also be subject to daily PCR tests. These tests will “not adversely impact the availability of testing for healthcare workers, emergency responders, symptomatic patients, or other high priority groups in each team’s local community,” according to the memo.
With the league moving away from the bubble, the NBA will offer twice-a-week PCR tests to any individual who resides in the same house as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 individual.
Teams will be punished for COVID-19 violations
Players or individuals who do not follow league policy will be subject to warnings, fines or suspensions depending on the severity of their actions. Those individuals may also be required to participate in an educational session outlining the importance of the protocols.
On top of that, the NBA will punish teams if a COVID outbreak occurs as a result of a team violation. Those teams are subject to “fines, suspensions, adjustment or loss of draft choices, and/or game forfeiture.” A team can also be punished if its Tier 1 or Tier 2 individuals repeatedly violate protocols.
What will happen when a COVID-19 vaccine is available?
Once a COVID-19 vaccine is available, the NBA will discuss whether Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals will be required to take the vaccine. While the league likely won’t require those individuals to take the vaccine, it warns that additional safety protocols could be put in place for those who do not take the vaccine.
In addition to a possible COVID-19 vaccine, the NBA is requiring teams to make sure Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals have the opportunity to get a flu shot. The league is urging teams to strongly recommend players receive flu shots.
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