Reports: NBA shares new COVID-19 health and safety protocols with teams

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at a news conference before an NBA preseason basketball game between the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Though the Disney bubble is a thing of the past, the NBA is not yet rid of the complications that permeated its 2020 post-season. As the league gears up for its 2020-21 campaign, set to tip off later this month, the NBA has shared with teams new health and safety guidelines related to protecting against the spread of COVID-19, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The expansive, 158-page set of guidelines covers several areas, from acceptable conduct for things like dining, to how the league plans to handle testing and the arrival of a viable vaccine.

On the dining front, the NBA reportedly said it will allow teams and players to dine at "approved restaurants" while on road trips, per Wojnarowski, along with outdoor dining or indoor dining in a "fully privatized space." Wojnarowski added that teams will be notified of the vetting process for said "approved restaurants" soon.

Additionally, players and team staff are barred from visiting bars, lounges, clubs, live entertainment or gaming venues, public gyms, spas, or pools, and indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people — though limited exceptions will be made in regard to the entertainment and gaming venues.

Should those protocols be broken, players and team staff would reportedly face fines, suspensions and "potentially required training sessions," according to ESPN's Tim Bontemps. Furthermore, should these violations lead to a situation in which the virus spreads and the league is forced to adjust its schedule — or other teams are impacted in another manner — such violations could result in fines, suspensions, the adjustment or loss of draft choices, and perhaps even game forfeiture.

In terms of assessing and preventing the virus's spread throughout the league, the NBA will reportedly "provide twice-a-week testing for household members of players and staff," according to ESPN, to "enhance their protection throughout the season."

With that season set to begin in late December, and a number of COVID-19 vaccines seemingly on track to potentially begin distribution in early 2021, the league also reportedly laid out guidelines for how that overlap will be handled.

Once a COVID-19 vaccine has been deemed safe and effective, and has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the league and Players Association will "discuss whether there will be a requirement to receive the vaccine for "Tier 1 and 2 individuals" (i.e. players, coaches and staff), per Bontemps.

Additionally, if it's decided that vaccinations aren't required for some or all in the league, the NBA and NBPA will discuss whether additional restrictions are necessary for those who don't get the COVID-19 vaccine (i.e. "different testing/mask wearing for those who have had the vaccine and those who haven't").

According to ESPN's Zach Lowe, teams have also been instructed to "strongly recommend" players and other Tier 1 and 2 personnel receive the flu vaccine, "in recognition of the significant health risks that influenza can pose."

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