When the NBA tightened coronavirus protocols to try to preserve a season marked by positive testing, thinning rosters, and game postponements, the league made a dramatic change that most franchises had always wanted: the closure of rooms for non-team guests in street hotels.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association reached an agreement on Tuesday on several more changes to the policy, including the league, which further restricts the movement of players and staff on road trips. The league no longer allows players and staff to leave hotels for off-team activities, and it is eliminating visitors to hotel rooms that one GM said ESPN was “the Mack truck that goes through all of our logs.”
So far, players have been allowed to have up to two guests in hotel rooms, including family members and long-term personal friends.
“Nobody wants any further restrictions. Nobody wants the rate of infection to rise if we can take action to reduce the risk,” said Michele Roberts, executive director of NBPA. “Our experts have concluded that these new procedures will expand our arsenal of weapons against the virus … It would be irresponsible and unacceptable not to take new measures to better promote and protect the safety of our players. “
The NBA had to postpone four games this week, including three involving the Boston Celtics, who are unable to win eight eligible players due to COVID-19 issues. Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington, and Chicago are among the teams that have suffered significant active player losses due to positive testing and contact tracing.
“We’re just going to follow what the NBA does [says]”Said Washington coach Scott Brooks.” I mean they are the experts. They have all medical, they have all scientific, they have everything, all data. … I am for everything the NBA requires of us. ”
Aside from the changes that involve guests on the street, the two sides agreed on several other things to tighten the protocols while several teams tested positive for COVID-19 or based on those positive tests in large groups of players the contact tracing was involved.
Until January 26th, when teams are in their home markets, both players and staff must stay at home unless they are going to some team-related activity, exercising outdoors, engaging in essential activities, or “due to exceptional circumstances”.
They are also intended to limit outside work interactions to family members, household members, and personal staff who work in their home.
Anyone who regularly visits a player or employee’s home must have two COVID-19 tests per week. In the meantime, teams with players who either tested positive or with a high-risk employee may require players and team members to perform laboratory-based testing twice daily for five consecutive days in addition to the daily point-of-care tests.
Even until at least January 26, pre-game meetings in the locker room cannot last longer than 10 minutes. Every second meeting with players and staff must take place either on the pitch, in a league-approved room, or in an arena in a room large enough for everyone to be at least three feet apart. Everyone at these meetings must wear masks at all times.
Players are now not allowed to arrive at the arena more than three hours before tipping on match days. In the meantime, pre- and post-game interactions with players must be limited to elbow or fist punches. Prolonged socialization should be avoided. and 6 feet should be kept as far as possible.
On team flights, teams now need to structure their aircraft seating plans to mimic their seating plans for the benches during games, while all hotel treatment sessions – including massages and physiotherapy – must be in large, open spaces and with 12 feet between stations. These interactions also require both masks and face shields.
Players must now always wear masks on the bench. There will be a cool down period when players check out of a game, with a specific area where they don’t have to wear a mask right away. Once the players have cooled off, they will have to return to their seat and wear a mask until they are back in the game.
You must now always wear masks in the locker room when training strength and conditioning and when traveling with someone who is not a member of the household.
Coaches and staff must always wear masks during play.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.