NBA Issues 2020-21 Health and Safety Guidelines, Including Ban on Bars and Clubs

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2020

FILE - In this Sept. 2, 2020, file photo, the NBA logo is displayed at center court during an NBA first-round playoff basketball game between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. NBA training camps open around the league Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020,though on-court sessions will be limited to individual workouts and only for those players who have gotten three negative coronavirus test results back in the last few days. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The NBA provided its teams with a 158-page health and safety guide for the upcoming 2020-21 season.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the guide bans players and staff from going to bars and clubs; live entertainment and gaming venues; and public gyms, spas and pools while in their home markets. Taking part in large indoor gatherings of 15 or more people is also prohibited.

Additionally, Wojnarowski reported that while on the road, players and staff will be permitted to dine at "approved restaurants" either outdoors or in a "fully privatized space."

The 2020-21 season is scheduled to start Dec. 22 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NBA avoided any COVID-19 issues during its restart in the Walt Disney World bubble last season, but teams will play games in their home markets during the upcoming season.

Without a bubble environment in place, positive COVID-19 tests are likely, just as has been the case with the NFL this season and MLB during its 2020 season.

Wojnarowski noted another aspect of the health and safety guide meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is twice-a-week testing for household members of players and staff, provided by the NBA. The league wrote that it will help "enhance their protection throughout the season."

ESPN's Tim Bontemps reported that the guide included suggestions for punishments should players or staff members break the protocols. Among the options are fines, suspensions and required training sessions.

While there isn't yet a vaccine for COVID-19, it appears progress is being made on that front, meaning it could become available during the 2020-21 season.

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, in the event a vaccine is considered safe and effective, the NBA and NBPA will discuss the possibility of requiring players and staff to get the vaccine, with additional safety measures for those who elect not to be vaccinated.

The 2020-21 season will be unlike any other given the pandemic and the fact that fans will not be permitted to attend nearly all games at the start of the campaign.

The NBA thrived when faced with adversity last season, finishing the season and avoiding any positive COVID-19 tests, but with teams traveling across the country, this season will pose an even bigger challenge.