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San Francisco rejects Warriors’ COVID-19 testing plans

The Golden State Warriors’ plans for a rapid COVID-19 testing scheme that would have allowed Chase Center to operate at 50% capacity have been rejected by San Francisco health officials.

The NBA basketball team recently detailed the plan, which centred on COVID-19 testing for all fans ahead of games. The proposal was outlined with the hope of allowing the 18,064-seat Chase Center to welcome around 9,000 fans when the new NBA season starts on December 22.

The plans drawn up by the Warriors were said to be the first of their kind but the proposals have been deemed too risky by local health services.

In a letter from San Francisco health officer Tomás Aragón, the Warriors’ plans were rejected amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in the Bay Area. There remains a possibility that Chase Center can operate at 25% capacity when the new season starts.

“The Department of Public Health has met with the Warriors and had a good conversation about how to safely bring events back to Chase Center in the future,” Jeff Cretan, a spokesperson for San Francisco Mayor London Breed, told local newspaper the Mercury News.

“We know the Warriors and events at Chase Center are an important part of San Francisco’s economy and our city, and we will continue to work collaboratively with them as we move through the challenging times ahead.”

The Warriors will continue to work with health officials in San Francisco towards the goal of welcoming fans back to Chase Center “when the time is right”.

According to UCSF epidemiology Professor George Rutherford, an infectious disease expert consulted by the Warriors, the team had planned on conducting PCR testing, which is considered more reliable than antigen testing.

Rutherford also indicated the Warriors could send testing kits to season-ticket holders, who would then drop these off at a central facility. Fans could also have taken rapid-results tests outside Chase Center before attending a game, Rutherford suggested.

Last week, it emerged that the NBA would require fans within 30 feet of the court to test negative for COVID-19 as part of its protocols to all 30 teams. 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.

The protocols also stated that teams will be permitted 50% capacity if all fans are tested and the local county’s positivity rate is 3% or below, among other requirements.

Image: Jason O’Rear/Chase Center