As the NBA prepares for the start of training camp, the league sent all teams a 134-page “Health and Safety Protocol Guide” as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage around the world.
The 2020/21 season will not take place inside a bubble like the resumption of the 2019/20 campaign in which a campus was established in Disney World Resort in Florida. Therefore, as teams play at their home arenas and travel for other games, the league is instituting protocols with the hopeful expectation of limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Here are some of the known outlines in the guide:
- Per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Twitter link), if a player tests positive for COVID-19, there are two ways for him to be cleared for a return: At least 10 days passing since the initial positive test or symptom onset or two negative PCR tests 24 hours apart. Bontemps adds that once a player is cleared, he must spend two days working out solo with nobody else present. The player also may not use the locker room or change clothes and must wear a mask and get a cardiac screening.
- Bontemps further states that players who test positive cannot exercise for at least 10 days and then monitored during individual workouts for two days. Therefore, even an asymptomatic player would miss at least 12 days.
- Bontemps also notes that there are no criteria listed for how many positive tests or any other metric that would require a shutdown of play. As has been the case with the NFL and MLB, it would be a fluid situation.
- Per the New York Times’ Marc Stein (Twitter link), with training camps to open Tuesday, individual workouts will be capped at four players and four team staff members at a time. Everyone participating must register three negative PCR tests.
- Anyone participating in training camp must quarantine from at least Nov. 27 – Dec. 2, per ESPN’s Malika Andrews (Twitter link). Testing will begin today, Andrews adds in a separate tweet.
- The NBA will establish a hotline to report safety and protocol violations, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. A hotline was also set up inside the campus in Orlando.
- As shown in a graphic tweeted by Charania, the protocols will include keeping six feet or more of distance and face masks being required at all times outside of eating/drinking, practicing or playing on the court, or while enclosed in an office with nobody else around. Additionally, daily testing will be required. Finally, virtual educations and awareness sessions are shown as a requirement.
- USA Today’s Mark Medina tweets that for the upcoming season, every NBA team will have an infectious disease specialist, infection control specialist, rapid testing coordinator, testing officer, testing manager and contact tracing officer, two contact tracers and team protocol enforcement officer. He adds that teams will also have two face mask enforcement officers, a player liaison, facility hygiene officer, arena health and hygiene manager, health education and awareness officer and travel safety officer.
- Teams will be allowed to pay housing for players in order to isolate those who test positive, according to Bontemps. Normally, they are prohibited to pay for housing since it’s considered a way to circumvent the salary cap.
- Travel parties will be limited of 45 people, including up to 17 players, Bontemps adds.