SEPTEMBER 24: The city of San Francisco will not permit Wiggins – or any other Warrior – to play home games this season without being vaccinated, reports Eric Ting of SFGate. The Department of Public Health stated on Friday that it wouldn’t matter if the NBA grants Wiggins a religious or medical exemption. For what it’s worth, Wiggins’ request for a religious exemption was denied by the league.
“At large and mega indoor events, all patrons 12 and older must be vaccinated at this time,” the department said in its statement to SFGate. “Under the current order, if unvaccinated, they cannot enter indoor areas regardless of the reason they are unvaccinated and cannot test out of this requirement even if they have a medical or religious exemption. This same rule applies to performers and players employed by the host at large and mega indoor events who are covered by the vaccination requirements of the Health Order.”
When Wiggins first commented on the vaccine in March, he said he didn’t envision himself getting it anytime soon unless he was “forced” to. He may have reached that point, since he’d risk missing the Warriors’ entire 41-game home schedule if he remains unvaccinated.
SEPTEMBER 23: Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, who spoke last season about preferring not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, hasn’t changed his stance and remains unvaccinated, sources tell Rusty Simmons of The San Francisco Chronicle.
Although the NBA doesn’t intend to mandate the vaccine for its players, the league will abide by local vaccination policies in municipalities where it’s required for indoor events. San Francisco is one of those cities that requires individuals to be vaccinated in order to enter indoor venues such as basketball arenas.
Assuming Wiggins remains unvaccinated and San Francisco’s regulations remain unchanged, the veteran forward would require a medical or religious exemption in order to play in the Warriors’ home games in 2021/22.
According to Simmons, league sources believe the NBA will grant Wiggins a religious exemption, but that would just be one step toward making sure he can play. The city of San Francisco would have the power to override any exemption granted by the league. Asked for a statement on the issue, the city’s Department of Public Health told The Chronicle it would provide more clarity if and when Wiggins receives an exemption from the NBA.
“We are actively addressing the matter of requests for religious exemption from vaccinations across many industries and will work with our business and entertainment community on next steps,” the statement read. “We will provide further clarification on this topic.”
It seems likely that the Warriors and Wiggins will be able to resolve the issue somehow – whether that means his exemption is approved and upheld or he agrees to be vaccinated – since it’s hard to imagine him missing half of the team’s ’21/22 games. Still, his situation is an example of the challenges certain teams may face with vaccine-hesitant players.
The two New York teams – the Nets and Knicks – are among the other clubs affected by local restrictions on unvaccinated individuals. Nets GM Sean Marks said this week that he still has “a couple” players who need to be fully vaccinated, but he’s confident it will happen before the regular season begins.