When NBA players start testing positive during the season for COVID-19 — and it is inevitable some will — it will not be for lack of guidance and regulation by the league. It’s simply an impossible situation to manage.

On top of previously-released health and safety guidelines for teams entering training camp, the league released more guidelines on Saturday that cover things such as what players can and cannot do on the road, as well as what happens when the vaccine is available for players. It’s a tough balancing act for the league and players union, trying to give players some freedom while limiting their exposure to the virus that is exploding across the nation.

Here are the key points of the 158-page document.

• Both at home and on the road, players cannot enter bars or clubs, plus no live music or gambling establishments. They can have team dinners at “approved restaurants.”

At home, players and staff are not allowed to enter: Bars/lounges/clubs; live entertainment/gaming venues (with limited exceptions), public gyms/spas/pool areas, or large indoor social gatherings (15 or more people), NBA tells teams in expanded Health and Safety Guide.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 5, 2020

NBA shared an additional Health and Safety guide w/ teams — this time, 158 pages — allowing for team/player dining at “approved restaurants” on trips, outdoor dining, or indoor restaurant in “fully privatized space,” according to document obtained by ESPN. Details, details.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 5, 2020

Exactly what the criteria are for an approved restaurant is still being worked out.

• On the road, players are allowed to have up to two guests in the room, but the league wants those to be close family members or long-time friends, not recent acquaintances or people they met online (as in someone who slid into their DMs). Good luck enforcing this one; discouraging players is not enough.

NBA teams’ traveling parties are allowed only up to two guests in hotel rooms: Family members or longtime close personal friends who reside in the city. Traveling parties are strongly discouraged from interactions with those not associated with the team.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 5, 2020

• Once an approved vaccine becomes available to NBA players — something not likely until the spring of 2021, the first waves of the vaccine will go to front-line workers, the elderly in long-term care homes, and others at higher risk — the league will come up with protocols on who is to receive it and when. If an NBA player or staff member elects not to have the vaccine, they would likely be subject to continued and further restrictions on their activities (there are cases of immunity from players who already had it and other situations to be considered).

When confirmed that a coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective, the NBA and NBPA will discuss players, coaches and staff being required to receive the vaccine, or additional health and safety-focused restrictions on individuals who elect not to receive it.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 5, 2020

The protocol also says that, if the vaccine winds up not being required, the two sides could discuss whether additional health & safety restrictions will be required for those who don’t (such different testing/mask wearing for those who have had the vaccine & those who haven’t). https://t.co/fDBM334alB

— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) December 5, 2020


• Not only will the players be tested, the family and people who live with the players also will be tested twice a week on the team’s dime, trying to catch exposure before it spreads.

The NBA will also provide twice-a-week testing for household members of players and staff, memo says. League is encouraging that to “enhance their protection throughout the season.”

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 5, 2020

• How does the league enforce all of this? Fines, suspensions, and at most a game forfeit by a team — and the league will come down harder on repeat offenders.

The league said players could be forced to quarantine and lose part of their paychecks during that time because of it — hitting players in the pocketbook is the ultimate threat.

In the NBA’s updated Health and Safety Protocol, the league also says that violations that lead to COVID-19 spread that causes schedule adjustments, or impacts other teams, could result in, “fines, suspensions,
adjustment or loss of draft choices, and/or game forfeiture.”

— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) December 5, 2020

Also, teams that have players and staff that around found to be repeatedly violating the protocols “may be subject to enhanced discipline.” https://t.co/uhYXnP7Kmg

— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) December 5, 2020

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