As the NBA continues to tighten its health and safety protocols to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the league will begin requiring players to wear KN95 or KF94 masks in all instances where required, sources told ESPN.
The policy will go into effect in the next week, sources said. The league is in the process of getting masks to all 30 teams before making it mandatory that they are worn. Starting with games Friday, the NBA also plans to more strictly enforce current rules regarding the use of face masks.
Under the league’s health and safety protocols, whenever players, coaches or staff members are required to wear masks — including while on the bench during games — they will now need to wear the KN95 or KF94 masks. Players are allowed to sit by themselves in a “cooldown” area immediately after leaving games to catch their breath, but once they do they are supposed to return to the bench area and wear a mask.
This is one of several adjustments the NBA has made in recent weeks to tighten its protocols while there are more than 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s data tracker. The league has had to postpone nearly two dozen games. Other adjustments include preventing players from having guests in hotel rooms on the road, and limiting on-court interactions before and after games.
The NBA was forced to postpone its 23rd game of the season Monday when the game between the Detroit Pistons and Denver Nuggets was called off because of an inconclusive test within the Pistons’ travel party, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who later reported that the team traveled to Salt Lake City and will be able to play Tuesday night’s game against the Utah Jazz as scheduled.
The league has begun to reschedule games that had been postponed in an effort to make up the ground it has lost in an attempt to get each team to its originally scheduled 72 games. One of those rescheduled games, between the Washington Wizards and Portland Trail Blazers, will take place Tuesday night.
The league also is in the process of getting its G League bubble off the ground in Orlando, Florida, with games scheduled to begin next week and continue for the next several weeks.