The NBA’s rules are getting stricter when it comes to players wearing masks amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Starting Tuesday, all active players that are dressed will be required to wear a mask on the sideline and bench until they check into the game at the start of each half, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Players will then be strongly encouraged to wear a mask once they check out of the game, though they won’t be required to at that point. Previously, only inactive players were required to wear a mask on the sideline, and they will still be required to do so. Additionally, all players and coaching staff members will be required to wear a mask when they’re away from the team and indoors.
This news comes on the heels of the report that Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant will have to quarantine for a week and miss several games after exposure to COVID-19. Durant already had COVID-19 early in the outbreak, and he has tested negative and still has antibodies according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. However, the league’s rules do not distinguish between players that have previously tested positive for COVID and those that have not. In addition to Durant, Chicago Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky, along with a member of the Chicago’s support staff, recently tested positive for COVID-19, as did several members of the Clippers support staff.
This season is obviously an unprecedented one, and the league is doing its best to navigate through uncharted waters while trying to keep players, coaches, and other team members as safe as possible. Like many individuals and institutions throughout the world, the NBA is awaiting access to the vaccine for COVID-19, and commissioner Adam Silver has said that the league will wait its turn.
“There’s no way we’d ever jump the line in any form whatsoever,” Silver said. “And, for the most part, because our players are so young and healthy without some sort of comorbidity, they will not be a high priority for vaccinations. There are some other members of the NBA community working on court who are older and will have a higher priority to get the vaccine.
“We will very likely be part of some public service campaigns, we already talked to the CDC and other federal agencies about that, encouraging people to get vaccinated when it is appropriate. But up until then, we will just be watching and waiting.”
When the vaccine does become available to the NBA, players won’t be required to get it, though many likely will choose to. In the meantime, the league will continue to do its best to keep everyone safe while also delivering a consistently entertaining product.