In an effort to prevent more games being postponed, the NBA has told all 30 teams it would begin to enforce face mask rules during games starting Friday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The league said it will impose penalties on both players and staff members who do not comply with the policy.
The news comes a day after the NBA postponed a contest between the Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons due to contact tracing as a result of a positive or inclusive COVID-19 test. It was the 23rd postponement of the NBA season.
Under the new protocols, the league will require players and staff to wear K95 or KNF94 masks, according to ESPN. The league is working to get those types of masks sent to teams. At that point, coaches, players and staff can only wear K95 or KNF94 masks. The league won’t fully enforce that policy until it is sure all 30 teams have the proper masks. The NBA still plans to start enforcing more strict mask rules Friday.
Coaches, players and staff are required to wear masks while sitting on the bench during games, according to ESPN.
“Under the league’s health and safety protocols, whenever players, coaches or staff members are required to wear them — including while sitting on the bench during games — they will now need to wear the K95 or KNF94 masks. Players are allowed to sit by themselves in a ‘cooldown’ area immediately after leaving games to catch their breath, but once they do are then supposed to return to the bench area and wear a mask.”
The NBA has been under scrutiny for attempting to hold the 2020-21 season under normal circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic. The league took a different approach last season, postponing play after Rudy Gobert tested positive in March.
After months away, the NBA relaunched in the Orlando bubble. No player tested positive for COVID-19 while in the bubble.