N.B.A. players will be required to spend at least the next two weeks in their homes apart from leaving for games, practices and essential activities, and will be mostly prohibited from leaving their hotels on the road as part of a new range of coronavirus protocols approved Tuesday by the league and the players’ union.
The N.B.A. has postponed five games this week in response to its growing coronavirus crisis, which has depleted multiple teams’ rosters. The new measures supplement the nearly 160 pages of health and safety guidelines that guide the league’s attempt to stage a season at teams’ home arenas — without the protective, restricted campus it engineered at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla., over the summer to complete the 2019-20 season.
The changes include:
Until at least Jan. 26, players, coaches and team staff members are required to remain at home when in their home markets unless they are attending team-related activities, exercising outside, performing essential activities or going out for what the league termed “extraordinary circumstances.”
Also for at least the next two weeks: When away from team activities, players should avoid interacting with people who do not live or regularly work in their homes.
On the road, players and staff will be prohibited from leaving the team hotel except for team activities or emergencies and will be barred from interacting with non-team guests at the hotel. (Players were previously permitted to host up to two guests in their hotel rooms, provided they were family members or longstanding personal friends.)
Face coverings are now mandatory for players on the bench at all times, except when players sit in cool-down chairs after exiting a game that are at least 12 feet away from the main bench area. Players are also required to wear masks in the locker rooms, during strength and conditioning activities and while traveling with anyone out of their household.
Before and after games, players are only allowed to greet each other with elbow or fist bumps. They have been asked to avoid “extended socializing.”
Specific penalties for violations have not been made public.
Before the new measures were announced Tuesday, Orlando’s game Wednesday at Boston was postponed. It was the league’s fourth postponement since Sunday and the third involving the Celtics. In recent days, Boston has listed at least a half-dozen players as unavailable under the league’s health and safety protocols — meaning they have either tested positive for the coronavirus or have been exposed to someone who has.
“No one wants to see more restrictions imposed,” Michele Roberts, the head of the players’ association, said in a statement provided to The New York Times and other media outlets. “No one also wants to see the infection rate increase if there are steps we can take to mitigate the risk.
“Our experts have concluded that these new procedures will add to our arsenal of weapons against the virus. It would be irresponsible and unacceptable to not employ new measures aimed at better promoting and protecting our players’ safety.”