The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agreed to tighten several of the health and safety protocols related to COVID-19 for at least the next two weeks, they announced Tuesday in a joint press release.
The new, more restrictive measures are being introduced in the wake of a handful of game postponements since Sunday. Several teams around the NBA have had players test positive for the coronavirus within the last week and/or are missing several players due to the league’s contact tracing program.
The following changes will be implemented for at least the next two weeks, per the league and the union:
- While in their home markets, players and staffers must remain at home except to attend team-related activities, to exercise outside or to perform essential activities.
- Players can no longer interact with non-team guests while at hotels on the road.
- Pregame meetings in the locker room will be limited to no more than 10 minutes, with all attendees wearing face masks. All other meetings involving players and staffers must occur on the court, in a league-approved space or at the arena in a room large enough to social-distance.
- For team flights, teams must creating a seating plan to ensure that players who are closest to one another on the bench are also closest to one another on the plane.
- Players will be prohibited from arriving at the arena more than three hours before tip-off.
- Before and after games, physical interactions between players will be limited to elbow bumps or fist bumps (i.e., no hugs or handshakes). They also must avoid “extended socializing” and must attempt to maintain six feet of distance.
- Players must wear face masks on the bench at all times, except immediately after they come out of a game. Players checking out of a game can sit in “cool down chairs” at least 12 feet from the bench and at least six feet from other chairs. When they return to the bench area, they must put on a mask.
- Players will be required to wear face masks at all times in the locker room, during strength and conditioning activities, and when traveling with anyone besides a member of their household.
- Coaches and other staffers must wear face masks at all times during games.
- Any individual who regularly visits a player’s or staffer’s home for a professional purpose must undergo COVID-19 testing at least twice per week.
While all of these rules will be in place for at least two weeks, one source tells Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press (Twitter link) that “that’s probably the minimum.” Some of the changes figure to remain in effect for the rest of the season.