At least four NBA teams will not allow fans back into arenas next month as coronavirus cases are surging dramatically across United States. The NBA reportedly sent out a memo Wednesday with protocols to all 30 teams with eligible markets to host fans.
The memo requires teams to have fans within 30 feet of the court to register negative coronavirus test two days prior to a game or take a rapid test on game day, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Wednesday. Teams would be allowed to have 50% of fans in attendance if they all tested negative – or if the local county’s positivity rate is 3% or below and seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 residents is 10 or fewer, according to Charania.
All fans over the age of two are required to wear masks, socially distance and undergo symptom surveys, Charania added. Teams have the option of installing plexiglass begin benches.
The Los Angeles Lakers later announced they will not have fans in attendance “until further notice” when the NBA season returns on December 22. The were quick to shut down the idea, citing guidance from state and local health officials.
“The health and safety of our fans, players, staff and community are our main priority and we will continue to work with state and local officials to come up with a plan to safely welcome fans back to STAPLES Center in adherence with local, State, and NBA guidelines,” the team said.
Similarly, the Brooklyn Nets told CBS News on Thursday that they’re following state guidelines, which do not allow fans or live audiences to attend any sports venue, even if they’re outdoors. A spokesperson for Madison Square Garden, the arena where the New York Knicks play, said they’re doing the same.
The Portland Trailblazers told CBS News they will also not allow fans at the Moda Center to start the NBA season.”We will continue to take the lead from the state and are optimistic that conditions will improve as the season moves forward,” the team said.
Some teams are mulling over including fans in arenas. The Orlando Magic, Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers told CBS News they have yet to make any decisions or announcements.
Scott Tomlin, the Dallas Mavericks’ director of basketball communications, told CBS News, “We are researching all scenarios with the safety of our players, staff and fans as our top priority.”
The Kings said in a statement that they’re “closely monitoring the rapidly-evolving coronavirus situation.”
“We have also been working with state and local public health officials and medical experts to develop health and safety protocols to welcome fans back to Golden 1 Center for the upcoming season once state and county public health orders permit,” the team said.
The Oklahoma City Thunder announced earlier this week they will allow a limited number of fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Among the measures they will take are six-foot seating distance between groups of guests, required face masks, self-service ticket scanning and disinfecting procedures throughout the building.
The upcoming season will be a different approach from the NBA during the pandemic. The league organized a so-called quarter million Americans killed because of coronavirus and there are over 10,000,000 cases in the U.S., which many considered to be successful because no players tested positive and managed to have months of basketball with interruptions. Now, the league faces tough decisions as the country has seen nearly a