NBA memo proposes strict COVID-19 protocols for unvaccinated players

As part of the COVID-19 safety and health protocols, unvaccinated NBA players will be kept as far as possible from their vaccinated counterparts. They will also have to travel by bus in different sections and eat, fly, and ride buses. ESPN obtained the memo from ESPN and released the protocols to all teams on Thursday.
Although the rules are still in flux and subject to further discussions with the National Basketball Players Association (NBA), the guidelines clearly state that players who have been vaccinated will have different off-court experiences this season.

Non-vaccinated players must be tested on practice and game days. Depending on the team schedules, they may have to test twice during some games. Players who have been vaccinated will not be subject to daily testing. They will only be tested if they experience symptoms or are exposed by someone who has confirmed that they are COVID-19-positive.

Unvaccinated players who are considered close to those who have tested positive for HIV will be required to go into a seven-day quarantine. If a close contact is vaccinated but tests positive, they will not be subject to quarantine.

The memo states that unvaccinated team members must not be seated next to their vaccinated counterparts at team meals and should keep at least six feet from each other. For team meetings, the same rules apply.

Unvaccinated players on flights may have to sit in the section reserved for team staffers. This could lead to less spacious seating. Unvaccinated passengers would be required to be seated separately from vaccinated or other players on buses.

Last week, the NBA advised teams that all coaches and staff, as well as game night staff who work within 15 feet from referees or players, must be fully vaccinated. The NBA and the union representing referees reached an agreement last week to ensure that all referees are vaccinated.

Thursday's memo stated that the league is working with the union to reach an agreement that all players would be tested for COVID-19 antibodies during preseason physicals.

Some protocols may be relaxed for unvaccinated players who have shown recovery from COVID-19 in the past six months. This is subject to final approval.