With the release of key details regarding the health and safety guidelines for the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season, we now have a much clearer picture of the road that lies ahead for the New Orleans Pelicans and the other 21 teams that will soon be housed inside the Orlando bubble campus.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the plan involves six phases:
- Phase 1 (June 12-22): This first window involves players returning to home markets in advance of mandatory testing. Those who went abroad were asked to return by June 15th, but the players who didn’t leave the United States have until June 22nd to report back to their franchise’s home city — if they have not done so already. Players may start or continue with restricted voluntary individual workouts at team facilities.
- Phase 2 (June 23-30): Mandatory testing begins on June 23rd for all those expecting to travel to Orlando. This includes a party of up to 35 people (could be 37 if two-way players are included) consisting of players, coaches, trainers, front office employees, security, etc. Members are expected to largely isolate during this time period, leaving residences only for essential activities, and if anyone or those in direct contact with an Orlando traveling member exhibits Covid-19 symptoms, that fact must be reported to the team’s medical staff. Players may continue with restricted voluntary individual workouts at team facilities.
- Phase 3 (July 1-9/10/11): Testing every other day (until the final two days before traveling to Orlando where testing will be conducted daily) and isolation protocols continue, but individual player workouts at team facilities become mandatory. Head coaches will be allowed to participate. The number of individual players at any one time inside team facilities can be increased from four to eight. Group activity remains prohibited as in the previous two phases.
- Phase 4A (July 7-11): All healthy, no-risk individuals of teams travel to Orlando and members of the entire travel party will be asked to self-isolate in their rooms for over 24 hours. This quarantine will be lifted for each individual once two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart are revealed; however, physical distancing of six feet and consistent face mask usage will then become common occurrences. Players will be given option to wear proximity alarms and an Oura smart ring, which could help with early detection of the coronavirus.
- Phase 4B (July 10-21): Players allowed to practice and partake in other events (workouts, meetings, etc) together for the first time. Players may mingle (eat, play various games) with players from other teams staying inside the same hotel provided physical distancing and other procedures are followed. They will, however, be asked to limit interactions with players staying at different hotels during this period. Covid-19 testing will continue on a regular basis — but that does not necessarily mean daily.
- Phase 5 (July 22-29): Teams play three scrimmage games. The Pelicans potential list of opponents include: Trail Blazers, Kings, Spurs, Suns, Wizards. Players granted interaction with those players staying in different hotels.
- Phase 6 (July 30-Oct. 13): The conclusion of the regular season begins with the eight seeding contests, which will be followed by a potential play-in tournament(s) and the 2020 playoffs. Once a team is eliminated from action, they must immediately leave the Orlando bubble campus.
- The New Orleans Pelicans will be staying in the Yacht Club Disney resort, along with the five other teams currently sitting outside of the playoff bubble.
Sources: NBA teams Disney hotels based on seeding:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 16, 2020
-Grand Destino: Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, Clippers, Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz, Heat
-Grand Floridian: Thunder, 76ers, Rockets, Pacers, Mavericks, Nets, Grizzlies, Magic
-Yacht Club: Blazers, Kings, Pelicans, Spurs, Suns, Wizards
- Players are allowed to leave the bubble with prior approval (say for a family emergency, births, weddings, etc), but they must quarantine for four days upon return — provided they produce negative tests while away from the bubble campus. Those players who fail to get prior approval are going to be subject to a minimum of a 10-day quarantine and deep nasal testing. All other Covid-19 tests throughout this entire process shall involve shallow nasal or shallow oral testing.
- If a player tests positive for coronavirus inside the bubble, they will be placed immediately into “isolation housing” and then asked to follow stringent protocol.
They will be placed in “Isolation Housing,” which will be a house, hotel or other facility that is different from the individual’s previous hotel room, at a location in which no individuals who have not tested positive are residing.
They will be administered a second COVID-19 test as soon as possible to guard against the possibility of a false positive. If that second test comes back positive, the person will remain in isolation housing.
If the second test comes back negative, a third test will be administered between 24 and 48 hours after the first test. If that test also comes back negative, the person will be allowed to reenter the NBA campus. If it comes back positive, the person will remain in isolation.
Once someone tests negative twice in a span of more than 24 hours, they will be allowed to leave isolation. However, though players will not be forced to be quarantined after that, they will have to wait for a two-week period — either from the first positive test if the player remains asymptomatic or from the resolution of symptoms — to pass before undergoing a cardiac screening. This is in accordance with the CDC’s cardiac-screening guidelines.
- Perhaps the most unusual yet interesting tidbit found inside the 110+ page health and safety report is that players and other members inside the bubble campus will have some policing powers over one another.
The league will establish an anonymous hotline for campus participants to report any potential or actual violations. The discipline for a player for violating the rules on campus will range from a fine to a suspension to removal from campus.