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NBA, NBPA implement more stringent COVID-19 safety measures

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at a news

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at a news conference before an NBA preseason game between the Rockets and the Raptors on Oct. 8, 2019, in Saitama, near Tokyo. Credit: AP/Jae C. Hong

Shortly after announcing another game in this early season was postponed because of COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols the NBA and the the National Basketball Players Association disclosed additional safety measures to be implemented immediately to try to keep the season moving forward.

The latest games to be postponed are Orlando at Boston and Jazz at Wizards, both scheduled for Wednesday night. In just three weeks the league has not only seen six games postponed but has had to endure games that have resembled summer league rosters with huge swathes of players forced to the sidelines. Monday there were 34 players listed as unavailable because they were on the Heath and Safety Protocols or self isolating.

Two more Washington players were found to test positive for the virus Tuesday, forcing the team to call off practice. Three Dallas Mavericks players are still isolating in a Denver hotel.

While the league has no plans to switch to a bubble-like environment like it utilized to resume last season. To try to stem the growing tide the NBA and NBPA agreed to implement stringent rules limiting players ability to basically play and then hide.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass told Newsday on Monday that there is no talk of pausing the season. "We anticipated that there would be game postponements this season and planned the schedule accordingly," he said. "There are no plans to pause the season, and we will continue to be guided by our medical experts and health and safety protocols."

For at least the next two weeks players are team staff are required to remain at their residence at all times when in the home market except to attend team-related activities, exercise outside or perform essential activities, or as a result of extraordinary circumstances. On the road there is now a prohibition on leaving the hotel or having interactions with non-team guests at the hotel.

All players must wear facemasks on the bench at all times other than when they exit a game and prior to returning to the bench can sit in 12-foot distanced "cool down chairs." Then players must return to assigned seats on the bench and wear a facemark until entering the game again. Players must wear a facemark in the locker room and during strength and conditioning activities and coach and other staff must wear masks at all times during games.

The new rules will also limit pregame meetings in the locker room to no more than 10 minutes with facemasks. Teams must also create seating plans on planes that mimics seating assignments on the bench. For treatment sessions the NBA is doubling the six-foot distancing guideline to a 12-foot separation between tables.

For any team with a positive player case or high-risk staff member case, the NBA may require players and team staff to undergo five consecutive days of twice-per-day, lab-based testing, in addition to daily point-of-care testing.

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