Teams can create fully vaccinated fan sections in which social distancing is subject only to state and/or local requirements, league sources added. But in arenas with such sections, vaccination must be verified digitally or manually, signage should be present and other league protocols must be followed, such as wearing face masks, those sources said.
As the vaccine rollout continues across the country, the NBA is hoping to get back to normal sooner than later, according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes.
With COVID-19 testing becoming more available and more vaccines being administered, the NBA expects all arenas to be at full capacity next season and is hopeful that it can safely welcome additional fans into arenas this season, league sources said.
We have seen more and more teams welcome fans into the arena over the course of the season, with only seven teams now operating without fans in attendance (the Bulls being one). There is a growing belief, however, that all teams could reach a limited capacity of fans by the end of the season, but it all depends on the state’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. For example, while the city of Chicago has started to allow fans to attend Cubs and White Sox games, they have yet to approve indoor sporting events like basketball and hockey.
Likewise, next season’s capacity numbers will surely be dictated by each individual state as well, but it’s encouraging to hear the league is beginning to put plans in place to make the decision to proceed as normal much easier. Baxter has reported that the NBA has now partnered with CLEAR, which he describes as “a biometric screening company known for its expedited security process at hundreds of airports worldwide.” In short, the software would allow for arenas to easily health screen individuals through quick surveys or temperature checks. The software could also link to lab results and vaccination records.
To be clear, sources told Baxter that it will be entirely left up to each organization to determine how they want to use this technology, and apparently “one-third” of teams around the league are already using it in one way or another for fans and employees. Arenas will also never receive any of the specific health-related information, just whether or not a person has “passed.”
I know this comes off as a bit much, but it also sounds like an efficient and safe way to ensure a return to normalcy. Again, teams get to determine how they use it, and it really does sounds like something that could effortlessly fit alongside buying a ticket or going through security when you arrive at a game.
Baxter also reported that teams could consider adding “fully vaccinated” fan sections, and it seems like this is where CLEAR could particularly come in handy.