NBA to require more stringent mask-wearing rules

NBA to require more stringent mask-wearing rules

February 3, 2021

The NBA will require players, coaches and staff members to wear KN95, KF94 or FFP2 facemasks during games beginning on Friday, according to a league memo sent to all 30 teams on Tuesday.

The memo, obtained by USA TODAY Sports, stated the NBA expects supplies of the masks will be delivered by Friday in hopes to strengthen the league’s health and safety protocols related to the coronavirus pandemic. All players, coaches and staff members were required to wear masks during games, but they were given more liberty on which cloth or surgical facemasks to wear.

The NBA has postponed 23 games this season because of issues related to positive COVID-19 tests and subsequent contact tracing. All teams are required to have at least eight healthy players to participate in a game. The league has held out optimism it can still navigate the season with minimal outbreaks with tighter and enforced protocols.

The league memo also reiterated its original facemask-wearing rules that entails players and coaches wearing them during games on the bench, during team huddles, in the locker room and when exiting the court. Players are allowed to take off their mask when they sit in a so-called “cool down chair” after leaving the game, but are expected to return to their original bench seat shortly afterwards. The memo states that “coaches may only pull down their facemasks momentarily to communicate with players and/or referees across the court in an unusual situation.” 

Although it is not required, the NBA will allow participants to wear a cloth over their KN95, KF94 or FFP2 mask for added protection. As for the other rules, the memo stated it “will impose penalties on any player or team staff member who fails to comply with these rules.”

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