Unvaccinated NBA players in markets where local governmental policies prohibit unvaccinated individuals from entering indoor venues won’t be permitted to enter their home arenas or practice facilities without an approved medical or religious exemption, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links).
As Charania explains, this means that players in New York and San Francisco – members of the Nets, Knicks, and Warriors – won’t be able to play in home games unless they’re vaccinated or have an approved exemption. Visiting players would be exempt from the vaccination requirements in New York and San Francisco, Charania adds.
After dealing with the coronavirus pandemic in both the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, the NBA is still determining how to handle the virus in ’21/22 now that vaccines are widely available. The league won’t make vaccinations mandatory for players, but is requiring personnel who interact with players – including referees – to be vaccinated. Charania reports (via Twitter) that fans within 15 feet of the court must also be fully vaccinated or register a negative COVID-19 test prior to the game.
While New York and San Francisco are the two major NBA markets with local restrictions in place on unvaccinated individuals, it’s possible more cities could join that list before or during the regular season. It’s also possible New York’s or San Francisco’s policies could be adjusted at some point. In each case, the NBA would have to abide by the market’s local regulations.
NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports in early July that 90% of players had been vaccinated, and it’s possible that number is even higher by now. Still, there are likely a handful of holdouts, so it will be interesting to see whether any players are impacted by these rules once the season begins.