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NBA’s COVID-19 protocols for return of fans

The NBA will require fans within 30 feet of the court to test negative for COVID-19 as part of its protocols to all 30 teams, following this week’s announcement on the confirmed start of the new 2020-21 season.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, a memo from the association states that fans close to the court will need to register negative for COVID-19 tests two days prior to a game or test negative on a rapid test on the day of the game.

The safety protocols will also enforce mask wearing for everyone above the age of two inside arenas, as well as requiring fans to social distance and undergo symptoms surveys.

Food and beverages will not be allowed for those within 30 feet of the court and teams will have the option to install plexiglass behind benches.

Fans sitting in arena suites that are at 25-per-cent capacity or less will not be required to take a COVID-19 test. Teams will be permitted for 50-per-cent capacity if all fans are tested if the local county’s positivity rate is three per cent or below and seven-day advantage or new cases per 100,000 residents is 10 or fewer.

On Tuesday, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) reached an agreement in principle on the start of the 2020-21 season, which is set to commence on a shortened basis on December 22.

The 2020-21 season will feature each team playing a 72-game schedule, down from the traditional 82 games, with the full regular-season and broadcast schedules to be released at a future date. The agreement is subject to a vote by the league’s Board of Governors, but approval is expected to be a formality.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Raptors could be forced to relocate to Tampa, Florida if the team is unable to play at its Scotiabank Arena home due to Canada’s coronavirus travel restrictions.

The Raptors have been in preliminary discussions with the city since last month, with plans for the team to play at Amalie Arena, home to NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.

Currently, nonessential workers traveling to Canada from the US must self-quarantine for 14 days.