By Jonathan Feigen, Staff writer
NBA players could be heading back to team training facilities next month but only in limited, extremely controlled ways while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down the league March 11.
The NBA on Monday announced its plans to modify restrictions on players training and the use of team facilities in states that have modified stay-at-home orders.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday he will let his stay-at-home executive order expire Thursday and would allow some businesses to open Friday with no more than 25 percent capacity. Training facilities were not part of Phase I of reopening the state, though Abbott said he hoped they could reopen in mid-May.
The NBA announced it would work with teams to seek alternatives in states where use of training facilities is still prohibited and emphasized it could “push this timing back if developments warrant.”
The revised NBA guidelines would allow no more than four players at a facility at a time. No head coaches or assistant coaches would be permitted to participate. There would be no group activities, including practices or scrimmages, permitted. Players would remain prohibited from using public health clubs or gyms.
The Associated Press reported players who return to their home markets would have to quarantine before being permitted to return to training facilities. All equipment would have to be disinfected after use. Saunas, cold tubs and other training room equipment would remain closed. Players must enter facilities alone and wear face masks other than while during workouts, with staffers remaining at least 12 feet away.
The plans to allow team training facilities to reopen are considered a response to changes in stay-at-home restrictions in several states with NBA teams, rather than a step toward restarting the season. The league sought alternatives to the use of public training facilities in states where they had become available.
“The purpose of these changes is to allow for safe and controlled environments for players to train in states that allow them to do so, and to create a process for identifying safe training options for players located in other states,” the NBA said in making its announcement.
As for the Astros, Major League Baseball has not made any announcements since its statement on March 16, when the Centers for Disease Control recommended restrictions on events with more than 50 people in attendance.
The season has been delayed since, and teams have generally returned home, with players working out on their own. The Astros and MLB had no updates after Abbott’s statements Monday.
In soccer, the Dynamo and Dash are under a training moratorium until May 15, as set by the MLS and NWSL.