Despite the fact that the NBA is a league that relies heavily on traveling and playing games on different days and nights, there is no schedule for travel within the same week. For example, one day a team may play in one city and travel to the next the next day. Or the same day, they might play one game and travel home the next day. The NBA does not necessarily adhere to a specific schedule, and team’s schedules are strictly based on the travel arrangements made by the organization for its teams.
A memo sent this week to NBA teams and obtained by Yahoo Sports apparently instructs teams with teams in New York and San Francisco to comply with the new requirements for vaccines for their employees. “All players with a team in New York City and San Francisco will be required to provide written documentation of their current vaccinations,” the memo said. “The NBA strongly encourages teams to provide all players with a copy of the new NYCPHVAC Vaccine Requirements. The NBA will not recognize any medical exemption for this requirement.”
6:27 p.m. Eastern
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps
According to a memo obtained by ESPN on Wednesday, the NBA informed teams that recently passed laws in both New York City and San Francisco regarding vaccine requirements will be enforced — including for players — for members of the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Golden State Warriors unless a medical or religious exemption is granted.
Both cities recently enacted legislation mandating COVID-19 immunization in a variety of situations.
Beginning Sept. 13, anyone over the age of 12 will be prohibited from entering “certain covered premises” within the city, including Barclays Center, home of the Nets, Madison Square Garden, home of the Knicks, and any other indoor gym or fitness setting, unless they have proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, unless a medical or religious exemption is granted.
Everyone over the age of 12 in San Francisco must show evidence of being completely vaccinated before attending any large-scale event, including NBA games at Chase Center, as well as any indoor gyms or other fitness facilities, starting Oct. 13, unless they have a medical or religious exemption.
These rules only apply to Knicks, Nets, and Warriors players, not to members of visiting teams that come to play those teams. The reason for this is because out-of-town teams visiting those cities to play games are free from the regulations in both New York City and San Francisco. However, such exemptions do not apply to the home clubs in those cities.
According to the letter, all 30 NBA clubs must give the information to every player on their roster who isn’t completely vaccinated by Friday, and they must also notify the league office precisely which players aren’t fully vaccinated. It also says that, in the future, if a club signs a player who isn’t completely vaccinated, the team must inform the player of this information and notify the league.
Similar vaccination restrictions may be considered in other NBA cities, according to the league, and it’s conceivable that some of them, unlike New York and San Francisco, would explore vaccine requirements for visiting teams. Unvaccinated athletes will be allowed to participate in games if they have a negative COVID-19 test, but they will not be allowed to contact with anybody outside of their team’s travel party, nor will they be allowed to leave their hotel save for practices and games, according to the league.
The memo’s existence was originally revealed by The Athletic.
According to ESPN, the league notified clubs in a letter last week that for the next season, any employees under team control who operate within 15 feet of players or officials during games must be completely vaccinated against COVID-19.
Coaches, front-office staff, and trainers were all covered in the mandate, although all players were not required to get vaccinated.
Negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association are ongoing about player vaccinations throughout the league.
The NBA has set a deadline of Oct. 1 for all club employees to be completely vaccinated, with the option of a booster injection at a later date. All employees working near the court, including broadcasters, scoreboard operators, photographers, and security staff, are subject to the rule. All back-of-house employees, including locker room attendants, medical personnel, equipment managers, and food and beverage handlers and suppliers, must be vaccinated.
The NBA’s training camps begin on September 28. The regular season starts on October 19th.
The league also highlighted certain basic arena operations procedures for the next season in a separate letter sent out to clubs on Wednesday and acquired by ESPN. The protocols have not yet been completed, according to the letter, and a set of final ones is scheduled to be sent in mid-September.
The home and visiting team benches, as well as the home, visiting, and referee locker rooms, are likely to revert to the 2019-20 seating configuration, according to preliminary procedures. Teams supplied cool-down chairs during the epidemic, and non-bench staff seats were physically separated from the benches.
The letter further instructs teams to allocate non-completely vaccinated athletes to lockers “as far away from other players as feasible,” with the nearest other players being fully vaccinated (i.e., to avoid placing any non-full-vaccinated players in adjacent lockers). According to the letter, all game-day workers would be forced to wear face masks at least at the start of the season.
The memo also states that, as the season approaches, fans ages 2 and up who are seated in or have access to areas within 15 feet of players — such as the court, locker rooms, back of the bench, or scorer’s table, among other places — will be required to be fully vaccinated or return a negative test result prior to the game. The letter says that negative test results may come from a PCR test taken two days before the event or an authorized rapid test collected on game day.
Baxter Holmes of ESPN contributed to this story.
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