The National Basketball Association (NBA) has sent a 113-page memorandum to its players detailing all the health and safety guidelines that must be observed in light of the upcoming restart of the 2019-2020 season.
As reported by CBS Sports, the memo sent to all 22 teams not only contains safety protocols for the NBA season restart but also explains the schedule that will be followed in the days and weeks to come.
Apart from guidelines regarding coronavirus testing, the memo also explains the measures taken to ensure all players, team staff, and officials are safe during games.
Strict testing rules
According to the memo, all players will have to undergo stringent COVID-19 testing starting on June 23. The same rule will also apply to all members of any team’s staff.
The testing will involve the usual PCR test procedure, which includes a throat or nasal swab, as well as an antibody test.
All additional ensuing tests after June 23 will follow the PCR testing rule, that is until the league says so otherwise.
Upon arriving in Orlando (the venue for all remaining games), all players and staff are required to self-isolate in their respective rooms until such time that they produce a couple of negative test results that are at least a full day apart.
The NBA safety guidelines on the court
All basketballs will be disinfected before any drill, practice, or game. The disinfection process will involve an extensive five-step protocol, using a cleaning solution approved by the league itself.
Players are encouraged to practice good hygiene and are discouraged to lick their fingers or remove their mouthguards after touching their shoes.
Spitting and clearing one’s nostrils are strictly prohibited. Players are no longer allowed to exchange jerseys during or after games.
And while players, coaches, and NBA officials will not be required to wear masks, all other personnel are required to use them.
The league will also have players wear bracelets that not only serve as hotel room keys but also allow them to go through security checkpoints and check-in for medical testing.
Biometric rings will also be given to each player. These rings can record vital signs, and in theory, help detect if a person has a high risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Six-phase restart schedule
The league restart will be following a strict six-phase schedule, the first phase of which is already ongoing.
From June 12 to June 22 of the plan’s first phase, all players are encouraged to quarantine at their homes.
The second phase is scheduled for June 23 to June 30. In this period, teams are to start testing their players and staff, as well as to conduct a training session for health and safety purposes.
The third phase will run from July 1 to July 9. All players are required to participate in workouts, although team training is not allowed yet at this point. Moreover, teams must have arrived in Orlando not later than July 9. Upon arriving, everyone must self-isolate until they can produce two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
The fourth phase will run until July 21, with team training activities now being permitted. Testing will continue, with all required to follow social distancing guidelines all throughout the period.
The fifth phase from July 22 to July 29 will have teams start playing scrimmages against each other. Testing protocols will still be followed.
The final phase will start on July 30, the date of the official league restart. The aforementioned on-court rules must be followed.