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NBA Makes Life Difficult for Unvaccinated Players in 2021-22 Season: What are the New Guidelines?WASHINGTON, DC – Russell Westbrook of the Washington Wizards sits on the bench as he wears a protective face covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic during warms up before playing against the Memphis Grizzlies at Capital One Arena on March 2, 2021 in Washington, DC. In the upcoming season, Westbrook will be suiting up for the LA Lakers. (Photo : Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The National Basketball Association has released a memo to teams regarding its proposed COVID-19 health and safety protocols for the 2021-22 season. And, unvaccinated players won’t be liking any of them one bit.

The league’s new guidelines will not only require unvaccinated players to have lockers as far away as possible from their vaccinated NBA teammates, but they will also have to eat, ride buses and fly in airplanes in different sections this coming season.

This is the latest move by the NBA to encourage players who are still unvaccinated to get the COVID-19 jab before the start of next season. The league doesn’t want COVID-19 to derail another NBA season, and the stakeholders firmly believe that having their players vaccinated will help accomplish that goal.

NBA putting pressure on unvaccinated players to get the jab

The differences in the league’s treatment of vaccinated and unvaccinated players are stark. NBA players who are still not vaccinated will need to undergo testing on game days and practice days.

Depending on their team’s schedules, these players might also need to take COVID-19 tests twice on some game days. On the other hand, vaccine players are given more freedom as they are not required to undergo daily testing. They will only be tested for COVID-19 if they have symptoms themselves or are exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Unvaccinated players will also have to enter a mandatory seven-day quarantine if they are deemed to be close contacts with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Vaccinated players are not required to face quarantine in such a scenario as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

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NBA’s newest guidelines create division between vaccinated and unvaccinated players

Regarding team meals, unvaccinated players will be instructed not to sit next to their vaccinated teammates, with the guidelines stating they should be at least six feet away from others. Those rules will also be applied for team meetings next season.

Unvaccinated players will also feel ostracized when it comes to team travel next season. The memo states that unvaccinated players would have to sit away from other players on buses or, in some cases, ride a separate bus from vaccinated players. When it comes to flights, unvaccinated players may be required to stay in a section of the airplane usually reserved for team staffers.

The league’s newest guidelines come a week after the NBA informed teams that all of their coaches and staff members must be fully vaccinated and their game night staff that work within 15 feet of referees or players. Last week, the referee’s union and the NBA also announced an agreement that the referees officiating the games next season will all be vaccinated.