It wasn’t so long ago that the entire sports world needed to shut down because of COVID-19. When the NBA resumed its 2019-20 season after an extended hiatus, it needed to do so in a bubble at Disney World in order to play basketball safely. Less than a year ago, every team in the league lost players for extended periods of time due to the outbreak of the Omicron variant. Replacement players became ubiquitous in December and January.
Yet as the world continues to creep back toward normalcy, the NBA is slowly doing the same. Shams Charania reported the league’s expected health and safety protocols for COVID-19 for the upcoming season on Tuesday, and they were relatively limited:
- Unvaccinated players will be tested once per week.
- Vaccinated players will be tested only when symptomatic.
- Players will be isolated immediately upon a positive test.
- Masks will not be required.
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It should be noted that individual local governments are still free to set their own COVID mandates. Unvaccinated players are still not permitted to enter Toronto, for instance, due to Canadian law. The New York mandate that prevented Kyrie Irving from playing in home games last season has been lifted, however, and there do not appear to be any similar mandates on the horizon in other cities.
The COVID-19 pandemic is by no means over, but with more than two years of experience in dealing with it, the league is better equipped than ever to operate safely. While there will surely be isolated cases amongst players, the 2022-23 season figures to be the least impacted by COVID since the virus first came onto the scene in early 2020.