MIAMI (AP) — The NBA has pushed back the possible reopening date of some team practice facilities for at least a week until May 8 at the earliest, saying Monday the extra time was needed in part to make sure player training options would be safe and controlled in an effort to try to mitigate the threats caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

And when those facilities reopen, the rules will be strict.

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PHOENIX, ARIZONA – APRIL 27: General view of the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, home of the NBA Phoenix Suns and WNBA Phoenix Mercury during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on April 27, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. The NBA recently announced the possible re-opening of team practice facilities as early as May 1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)



The May 8 date is far from firm, the NBA said, warning teams that it “may push this timing back if developments warrant.” The league planned on giving teams the option of reopening facilities as early as Friday, though ultimately decided more time was needed across the league for many reasons.

But whenever those practice courts open — local government clearance would be needed first in all cases — there will not be an immediate return to normal. A person with knowledge of the league’s plans said players would have to wear face masks inside facilities except when working out, that any staff members present would have to wear face masks and gloves, and that a minimum distance of 12 feet would be required as a buffer between players and staff members working with them.

The exception in that 12-foot case would be when medical or athletic training personnel are in contact with players. The person spoke to the The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the details were not publicly released.



PHOENIX, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 28: Christian Wood #35 of the Detroit Pistons reacts during the second half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 28, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Pistons defeated the Suns 113-111. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)



There are numerous other details of the league’s facility-reopening protocols, the person said, including:

— Players who return to their home-team markets from out of town will have to quarantine before being allowed back in the facility.

— All equipment used by players in their voluntary workouts, including basketballs, will have to be disinfected before being used again. Players will not be allowed to share towels, and teams will not be permitted to make steam rooms, saunas, cold tubs, oxygen chambers or cryotherapy chambers at the facilities available.

— Teams will have to designate a staff member as a “Facility Hygiene Officer” to oversee all new policies.

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Players will have to enter the facility alone, without family members, friends or personal security.

— All cell phones, keys and other often-touched items must be cleaned and disinfected upon entry to the facility.

“Our foremost priority remains everyone’s health and well-being and we will continue to follow the NBA’s guidelines, while also continuing to listen to public health experts and observe local governmental directives,” Orlando Magic spokesman Joel Glass said.

When teams can reopen, other rules will include a limit of four players at a facility at any one time, no practices or scrimmages will be allowed, and no head coaches or assistant coaches can be part of the voluntary workouts.

NBA players are also still prohibited from working out at public health clubs, fitness centers, or gyms.



DETROIT, MICHIGAN – FEBRUARY 20: General view of NBA ball during a game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on February 20, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)



The NBA suspended the season March 11 after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz was the first player to test positive for COVID-19. It ordered teams to shutter their facilities eight days later, saying at the time it was doing so “in light of the rapidly-developing coronavirus situation, and consistent with evolving advice from health experts regarding how to promote individual and public health while minimizing the spread of the virus.”

Facilities have not been opened since, and this step — when it happens — does not mean a return to NBA play is imminent. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said repeatedly that he does not believe the league will be in position to make any decision on whether the season can resume until sometime in May, at the earliest.

“There’s too much unknown to set a timeline, even too much unknown to say, ‘Here are the precise variables,'” Silver said on April 17.

The push toward reopening facilities started  after certain states and municipalities began loosening restrictions on personal movement. Georgia and Oklahoma are among the states that have already allowed some businesses to reopen and Florida’s two most populous counties, Miami-Dade and Broward, announced plans Monday to loosen some of their stay-at-home policies starting later this week.

Johns Hopkins University, which tracks the amount of cases and deaths based on figures revealed by governments around the world, showed Monday that the U.S. count was nearing 1 million confirmed cases. More than 55,000 people in the U.S. have died because of the virus.


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