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NBA personnel to require full vaccination to interact with players

Last Updated Aug 27, 2021 at 4:53 pm EDT

The Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat tip off to start during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. The Raptors are playing their home games in Tampa as a result of Canada's strict travel regulations stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

All NBA team personnel who will be near players and referees must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus this season, the league told its clubs in a memo on Friday.

The news was first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and details of the memo were also confirmed by ESPN.

This includes the coaching staff, medical and performance staff, equipment personnel, members of the front office, player development staff, team and arena security, club media relations staff along with people working the scorer’s table and attendants.

The NBA has set an Oct. 1 deadline for team personnel to be fully vaccinated and left open the possibility that it could require a booster shot at a later date.

The NBA said exemptions will be made in the cases of unionized workers who cannot be forced to be vaccinated, and for those with religious or documented medical reasons.

Those not fully vaccinated, the NBA said, “will be prohibited from having in-person interaction with, or being within 15 feet of, any player or referee.” They would also not be permitted to travel with teams and would have to wear face masks at all times inside team facilities.

Training camp for the 2021-22 season is scheduled for September 28 while the season is set to tip off on October 19.

The NBA is believed to be the first major league to require such widespread vaccination.

Back on Aug. 20, the Miami Heat announced that all employees must be in the process of becoming fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 1. The only exemption would be granted to those awaiting a second dose of a two-shot vaccine or those with “a qualifying medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief,” the team said.