The National Basketball Association (NBA) has issued updated coronavirus health and safety guidelines for its teams ahead of the new season later this month, including possible disciplinary actions for players going to bars or attending large gatherings.
According to the 158-page Health and Safety Memo obtained by ESPN, the NBA plans to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the league, including by limiting potential exposure players may have outside of games.
The memo reportedly states that while at home, NBA players and staff are prohibited from going to bars, lounges or clubs, live entertainment or game venues, public gyms, spas, public pools or larger indoor gathering with more than 15 people.
The NBA is also allowing players to leave hotels for dining only if they will be eating outdoors, in private rooms at restaurants or at NBA-approved eateries.
ESPN reported that the league has informed teams that officials may “conduct unannounced in-person inspections of team facilities” to keep track of whether teams are following COVID-19 safety protocols.
Potential punishments for violations include warnings, educational sessions, fines and suspensions, according to ESPN.
Teams could also face retribution for failing to comply with or report any “potential or actual violation, and/or any discipline imposed by the team for such violation.”
U.S. health officials have said that a viable coronavirus vaccine will become available for distribution in the coming months. Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna have both applied for emergency authorizations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
As a result, the NBA also said that it will discuss with the players’ union whether coaches, players and staff will be required to receive the vaccine upon FDA approval.
The memo also reportedly states that any player that has to quarantine during the pandemic “may be subject to a proportionate adjustment to pay for any games missed during the period that the player is in quarantine and undergoing testing due to engaging in such activities and/or conduct.”
These new guidelines come after the NBA reported Wednesday that 48 out of 546 players in the league had tested positive for COVID-19 as they returned for training camps.
The 2020-21 NBA season is scheduled for a Dec. 22 start date, though preseason games will start at the end of next week. The league is playing a 72-game season instead of the usual 82-game schedule.
The league just concluded its playoffs for the 2019-2020 season in October. That season was concluded in a “bubble” in which teams all played on courts at Disney World in Orlando in a controlled environment.
The new season will be taking place across the country, although many arenas will not allow fans, with some holding a limited amount to reduce the spread of the virus.