NBA teams that fail to abide by league rules designed to minimize the spread of the coronavirus this season could face major penalties, such as game forfeits or draft picks, the league told its franchises on Saturday.
The league also said it and the National Basketball Players Association will discuss that players, coaches and other personnel are “ required to receive a coronavirus vaccine ” when it becomes available, strongly urging teams to encourage players and staff to get flu shots and said that immediately effective Level 1 and Level 2 personnel – which basically means players, coaches and what essential personnel – should avoid bars, lounges and clubs, even when food is served, most of the live entertainment- or game venues, public gyms, spas and swimming pools.
Also off-limits: indoor gatherings of 15 or more people. Those rules apply both when teams are at home and when they are on the go, according to the NBA. Pre-season games start Friday and the regular season starts on December 22.
The protocol document, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, contains far more detail than the draft version circulated to teams last weekend. The rules and protocols in the updated document – which even includes examples of how seat plans can be drawn up on airplanes and buses – have been agreed by the NBA and the NBPA.
“The most important thing, of course, from what we’ve been told, is the daily tests,” said Tobias Harris, who was an attacker in Philadelphia, earlier this week when the protocols were finalized. And guys hold each other accountable for being safe and limiting outside exposure of people or whatever. It’s a bit confusing to me because you never know. You could go to a grocery store and you could get the virus somehow, right? So I think it’s a fine line, but I think we should do our best to follow the protocol, keep each other safe, keep the team safe, and just see how it turns out. “
Starting on Sunday, the testing program – players and coaches will be checked daily, and 48 players were found to be positive before the training camps even started – will begin incorporating immediate families, if they wish. Teams have been commissioned by the NBA to work with BioReference, the competition’s testing provider, to make voluntary PCR testing available twice a week to all family members of Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals. The family members of those Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals are also urged to get flu shots.
“We’re just trying to follow the guidelines, do the best you can,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said earlier this week. ‘It’s not easy, but everyone has to go through it. We’re just trying to navigate through it. “
The league made it clear in the final protocols that if teams don’t take health and safety rules seriously, a serious price will be paid.
As written in the new rules, “Protocol violations that result in COVID-19 spread requiring adjustments to NBA game schedule or otherwise affect another team may subject the offending team to additional penalties, including fines, suspensions, adjustment. or loss of concept choices and / or forfeiture of games. “
The NFL has fined teams and coaches for not wearing masks and following protocols; Last week, the New England Patriots were fined $ 350,000 for violations and the New Orleans Saints were fined $ 500,000, plus a seventh-round pick after a party in the locker room in which they didn’t wear masks.
An important addition to the final version of the NBA protocols, teams will have some freedoms when they hit the road and will not be forced to stay in their hotel if they are not practicing or playing.
The league and union will work with teams to identify at least three eateries in all markets that will be designated as “approved restaurants” for on-the-go meals. That doesn’t necessarily mean people will be limited; members of traveling parties are given permission from the league to “go to a restaurant en route as long as the restaurant complies with any state and local laws or regulations pertaining to COVID-19” – although teams can also set their own restrictions if they deem need it.
‘I am not the CDC. I’m not a doctor, ”said Harris. “But I’m going to wear my mask and follow my protocol and do what I’m told at this point, and then hopefully we’ll have a full season.”