NBA, NBPA Agree to Relax COVID-19 Restrictions for Fully Vaccinated People

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2021

The court floor and league logo are shown after Game 3 of the NBA basketball Western Conference final between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

As vaccines ramp up across the country and within the NBA in an effort to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, the league has reportedly agreed to ease certain restrictions.  

According to Baxter Holmes of ESPN, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association decided they will relax restrictions for those in the league who have been fully vaccinated. Teams were informed via a memo sent out Wednesday night.

Holmes noted the changes are for players and personnel who are "two weeks past their final dose and any team where 85% of players and 85% of staff are fully vaccinated."

Those who meet the criteria can have indoor visitors at home and on the road without extensive testing, can dine outdoors at restaurants and will not have to quarantine following exposure. Teams that are fully vaccinated will have more opportunities to leave their hotels on the road, dine indoors and be inside practice facilities without wearing masks.

"One Western Conference head athletic trainer, echoing others in health circles around the league, said there is hope that the new benefits will help serve as a motivating factor for those who may be considering being vaccinated," Holmes wrote.

Andrew Lopez of ESPN reported Sunday that a number of eligible members of the New Orleans Pelicans received their first vaccine after Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards expanded eligibility.

While the NBA was able to complete its 2019-20 campaign and playoffs without a single positive test inside the Walt Disney World Resort bubble, this season has been more of a struggle. Dozens of games were postponed in the season's first half, which is one reason the NBA released the schedule in two parts to allow more flexibility for rescheduling.

Ideally, there will be less concern about potential cancellations and postponements as more players and staff members receive vaccines, especially as the playoffs approach.

CNN's Deidre McPhillips recently cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data and noted approximately one in eight Americans have been fully vaccinated.