Washington, 28 April 2020 (dpa/MIA) – The NBA on Monday announced modifications of the use of team practice facilities and player training set to come into force no earlier than May 8, in cities that have loosened restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A statement from the NBA said the start date could be pushed back “if developments warrant.”
The league suspended play on March 11 and has yet to cancel any games, although Commissioner Adam Silver said on April 17 that the league was “not in a position to make any decisions” on returning to play and that it was unclear when it would be.
ESPN reported that the NBA was planning immediate re-opening in states with loosened restrictions before the Atlanta Hawks, in the south-eastern state of Georgia, balked.
While Georgia had opened some businesses on Friday and theatres and restaurants with some restrictions on Monday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms on Friday said on CNN, “Stay home, nothing has changed.”
Barring any setbacks, players will be allowed to have individual workouts, with restrictions, or receive treatment at team facilities on a voluntary basis in cities not subject to government restrictions.
No more than four players will be permitted at a facility at any one time, while head or assistant coaches will not be able to participate. Group activities, including practices or scrimmages, will still be prohibited.
In addition, non-team facilities such as public health clubs, fitness centres or gyms will continue to be forbidden for players to use.
The NBA said it would work with teams in areas where stay-at-home orders are still in place, such as New York, to find alternatives for those players.
Monday’s announcement came as a handful of states – including the home states of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies – relaxed stay-at-home orders and other restrictions on non-essential businesses.
Meanwhile, some big cities saw restrictions remain tight in states beginning to reopen.
In Colorado, a handful of businesses were allowed to reopen on Monday, but in Denver, state capital and home to the Nuggets, the stay-at-home order will remain in place until May 8.