NBA memo: NYC, S.F. vaccine rules apply to all

The NBA informed teams that recently issued laws in both New York City and San Francisco about vaccine requirements will be enforced — including for players — for members of the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors unless there is an approved medical or religious exemption from taking part in them, according to a memo obtained by ESPN.

Both cities recently passed laws requiring some level of COVID-19 vaccination in various settings.

In New York City, beginning on September 13, any over the age of 12 won’t be allowed to enter “certain covered premises” inside the city — including Barclays Center, home of the Nets, Madison Square Garden, home of the Knicks, as well as any other indoor gym or fitness setting — without providing proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, unless there is an approved medical or religious exemption for them not doing so.

In San Francisco, beginning October 13, everyone over the age of 12 must show proof of being fully vaccinated before entering any large scale event — including NBA games at Chase Center — as well as any indoor gyms or other fitness facilities, again unless there is an approved medical or religious exemption for them not doing so.

These laws apply only to players on the Knicks, Nets and Warriors, and not for members of visiting teams coming to play those teams. The reason for that is the laws in both New York City and San Francisco have exemptions for out-of-town teams coming to those cities to play games. Those exemptions, however, do not exist for the home teams in those cities.

In the memo, the NBA said that, by Friday, all 30 NBA teams will have had to deliver the information to every player on their roster that isn’t fully vaccinated, and that they’ll have to inform the league office specifically which players are not yet fully vaccinated. It also states that, moving forward, if a team signs a player that isn’t fully vaccinated, they must tell the player this information, and inform the league that it has done so.

The league also stated that similar vaccination requirements could come under consideration in other NBA markets, and that it is possible some of them — unlike New York and San Francisco — could also consider vaccine requirements for visiting teams. It also said there could be other restrictions for unvaccinated players, pointing out that in Toronto, it expects unvaccinated players to be able to play in games — as long as they have a negative COVID-19 test — but that they won’t interact with people outside of their team’s travel party, nor will they be able to leave their hotel beyond going to practices or games.

The Athletic first reported the news of the memo’s existence.

ESPN has previously reported that the league had informed teams in a memo last week that all personnel under team control who work within 15 feet of players or referees during games will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the upcoming season.

The directive specifically included coaches, front-office members and trainers, but stopped short of requiring all players to be vaccinated.

Leaguewide vaccination of players is subject to negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association.

The NBA has set an Oct. 1 deadline for team personnel to be fully vaccinated and left open the possibility that it could require a booster shot at a later date. The mandate applies to all personnel who will work near the court, including broadcasters, scoreboard operators, photographers and security personnel. Also required are all back-of-house operations, including locker room attendants, medical staff, equipment managers, and food and beverage handlers and providers.

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