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Unvaccinated NBA players face strict protocols for 2021-22 season

NBA to require referees to have coronavirus vaccine


The NBA logo is displayed as people pass by the NBA Store in New York City, U.S., October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

FILE PHOTO: The NBA logo is displayed as people pass by the NBA Store in New York City, U.S., October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Unvaccinated NBA players likely will face a slew of strict COVID-19 protocols this season, including using lockers “as far away as possible” from their vaccinated teammates and following different guidelines for meals, travel and testing, according to a report Thursday by ESPN.

The report outlines details of a league memo sent to teams Thursday that proposes several protocols and makes clear that players’ experiences off the court could be vastly different this upcoming season depending on their vaccination statuses. ESPN also noted the new guidelines are not final and are subject to ongoing talks with the National Basketball Players Association.

While vaccinated players will be tested only if they are symptomatic or exposed to a confirmed positive COVID-19 case, unvaccinated players will be tested on all game days and practice days. They sometimes could be tested twice on game days, depending on schedules.


Additionally, unvaccinated players face mandatory quarantine for seven days if they are deemed a close contact to someone confirmed as positive with COVID-19. The report notes that vaccinated players are not expected to be quarantined if they are a close contact but don’t test positive.

The memo also calls for unvaccinated players to sit away from vaccinated teammates during meals and team meetings, as well as on flights and buses. The reports notes that unvaccinated players may be required to sit in different sections of planes or buses, or even ride in separate buses, and some seating accommodations could be less comfortable than what they are accustomed to.

Last week, the NBA informed teams that all coaches and staff members — including game-night staff working within 15 feet of players or referees — must be fully vaccinated. Also last week, the league announced an agreement with the National Basketball Referees Association for all referees to be vaccinated for the 2021-22 season.

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