NBA sends out new health safety guidelines banning bars/clubs, talking vaccine

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When NBA players start testing positive during the season for COVID-19 — and it is inevitable some will — it will not be for lack of guidance and regulation by the league. It’s simply an impossible situation to manage.

On top of previously-released health and safety guidelines for teams entering training camp, the league released more guidelines on Saturday that cover things such as what players can and cannot do on the road, as well as what happens when the vaccine is available for players. It’s a tough balancing act for the league and players union, trying to give players some freedom while limiting their exposure to the virus that is exploding across the nation.

Here are the key points of the 158-page document.

• Both at home and on the road, players cannot enter bars or clubs, plus no live music or gambling establishments. They can have team dinners at “approved restaurants.”

Exactly what the criteria are for an approved restaurant is still being worked out.

• On the road, players are allowed to have up to two guests in the room, but the league wants those to be close family members or long-time friends, not recent acquaintances or people they met online (as in someone who slid into their DMs). Good luck enforcing this one; discouraging players is not enough.

• Once an approved vaccine becomes available to NBA players — something not likely until the spring of 2021, the first waves of the vaccine will go to front-line workers, the elderly in long-term care homes, and others at higher risk — the league will come up with protocols on who is to receive it and when. If an NBA player or staff member elects not to have the vaccine, they would likely be subject to continued and further restrictions on their activities (there are cases of immunity from players who already had it and other situations to be considered).

 

• Not only will the players be tested, the family and people who live with the players also will be tested twice a week on the team’s dime, trying to catch exposure before it spreads.

• How does the league enforce all of this? Fines, suspensions, and at most a game forfeit by a team — and the league will come down harder on repeat offenders.

The league said players could be forced to quarantine and lose part of their paychecks during that time because of it — hitting players in the pocketbook is the ultimate threat.