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NBA Bans Hugging, Hoping to Stop Spread of COVID-19

In a strange announcement today, the NBA announced new COVID-19 protocols. These included a new ban on several behaviors for its players, coaches and staff. For the next two weeks, players will not be allowed to interact with or, specifically, hug opposing players before or after games. Additionally, players will not be allowed to high-five teammates after free throw attempts.

The decision came in light of several games needing to be canceled or postponed, as teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics have seen their rosters shrink to seven and eight players, respectively.

Since the summer of 2020, about 100 players have tested positive for COVID-19.


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NBA Bans Hugging
Credit: Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports

NBA COVID-19 Protocols

The NBA also announced today that protocols for coaches and staff will be changed as well:

Other NBA COVID-19 safety protocols include:

  • Players must stay their homes or hotel rooms (if they are on the road). Team meetings will be limited in length and all in attendance must socially distance and wear face masks.
  • Teams may not arrive to arenas more than three hours before tip-off.
  • Face masks must be worn on the bench unless players choose to go to a “cool down chair.” The chair will be located separate from the team bench.
  • New requirements for team flights and treatment sessions.
  • Additional requirements for testing and protocols in the event of a positive test

The NBA has no easy road ahead. Basketball is perhaps the most difficult sport to prevent the spread of Covid-19. It is not like football where players are generally spread apart or like baseball where social distancing protocols are much easier to abide by. The best the NBA can hope for is the initial surge in cases in the league to eventually subside so games may proceed as normal. This was the case with the MLB.

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