It’s not the level of safety and security seen in the Orlando bubble, but it’s as close as the NBA can get for the upcoming season.
Just days before training camps open, NBA sent out a 134-page memo to teams on Saturday outlining COVID-19 protocols for players and staff at team practice facilities and moving into games. ESPN’s Tim MacMahon has the details, and Shams Charania of The Athletic Tweeted out the guide.
NBA-NBPA Core Health and Safety Principles for 2020-21 season: pic.twitter.com/IjtYUPPi77
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 28, 2020
Here are some highlights from the memo:
• There will be daily health monitoring and testing of players.
• If an NBA player tests positive for COVID-19, they will not be able to participate in any “exercise activity” (studies have shown potential long-term health issues for people who exercise with the disease).
• If a player tests positive there are two ways they can return to play: 1) Have two consecutive negative tests 24 hours apart; 2) Go 10 days since a positive test without any symptoms (and without medication that can reduce fever or help with other symptoms).
• Teams can pay for housing to isolate players who test positive (under the CBA usually teams cannot pay for a players’ housing).
• If a player tests positive, the team must alert local authorities and contact trace people he may have been in contact with. Plus, teams must sanitize any area that player may have been in the team facilities.
• The snitch line is back — the league is setting up an anonymous hotline where players or staff can call in protocol violations.
• What qualifies as a high temperature? The NBA set the line at 100.4 degrees.
• Teams will need to hire and designate people for specific positions on the staff: infectious disease specialist, rapid testing coordinator, testing officer, contact tracing officer, two contact tracers.
• The NBA says that the occurrence of a small number of cases will not lead to the postponement or cancellation of the season, but also keeps its wording very vague on these issues allowing it wiggle room to decide what would force that drastic step.
• The teams can have a travel party of up to 45 people, including 17 players (15 on the roster plus the two two-way contracts). That is 5-10 people fewer than most teams traditionally travel with.
The document otherwise outlines ways to minimize exposure and keep players and staff as safe as possible.
Training camps open Tuesday for individual workouts (limited to four players at a time).
As we have witnessed in other sports using a play-in-arenas model — the NFL, college football, MLB, Premier League soccer — there inevitably will be players who contract COVID-19. With the spikes going on around the nation, it’s almost unavoidable with the kind of travel and other risks the players will have to take to play the game.
The protocols and steps’ goal is simply to reduce the risks and control any outbreaks/positive tests that do happen.
There inevitably will be adjustments on the fly as well by the league, everything about the COVID-19 situation in the United States is fluid.