Unvaccinated NBA players, staff required to test weekly for COVID-19 next season

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NBA players and staff who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 will be subject to weekly testing during the 2022-23 season.

The NBA announced the policy in a memo sent to teams on Tuesday. Per the Associated Press, the league will make exceptions for those who have "recently recovered" from an infection and "when “directed by their team physician or a league physician or government authority."

In addition, players and staff will be required to undergo testing when experiencing symptoms regardless of vaccination status. They're also required to report when someone in their household tests positive.

Most of the NBA's players are vaccinated. The league is encouraging those players to keep up-to-date with their vaccination status, which could include an anticipated booster targeting now-dominant Omicron variants that's expected to drop this fall. Facemasks are not required but will be recommended indoors and at locations classified with high positivity rates.

Kyrie Irving, right, and Matisse Thybulle both missed games last season because of their COVID-19 vaccination status.
Kyrie Irving, right, and Matisse Thybulle both missed games last season because of their COVID-19 vaccination status. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The policy was made in agreement with the National Basketball Players Association. It varies from last season's preseason policy that required unvaccinated players to undergo daily testing before taking part in any team activities or meeting in person with personnel.

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The NBA was forced to postpone several game last winter as the Omicron variant took hold and caused an outbreak around the league and elsewhere. The league altered its return-to-play policy at the onset of the Omicron outbreak in December, allowing vaccinated players and coaches who tested positive to return to action in six days instead of 10 as long as they were deemed "no longer at risk to be infectious." Tuesday's memo didn't address a return-to-play policy.

The NBA warned players on Aug. 8 that they still won't be permitted to travel to Canada to play the Toronto Raptors without being vaccinated, citing Canadian regulations.