The D.C. government issued a coronavirus vaccine mandate for indoor events and other activities effective Jan. 15, 2022, last Wednesday. In short, anyone entering an indoor entertainment venue, restaurant, night club or gym must submit proof of at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. On Feb. 15, 2022, the vaccine mandate will require that people have at least two doses of the coronavirus vaccine, except in the case of Johnson & Johnson’s, which is one dose.
Washington Wizards games are at Capital One Arena, an indoor entertainment venue. Fans of course, are expected to comply. Monumental Sports & Entertainment staff already have a mandate as a private business. But what about NBA players (and by extension, NHL and G-League players)? Boston issued a similar mandate earlier this week, but pro sports athletes, including players on the Celtics and Bruins were exempt.
In a statement issued by Monumental Sports yesterday, they said the following:
“Between the Mayor’s mandate and our own staff policy, everyone entering Capital One Arena will need to be vaccinated by January 15. We believe we will be able to implement the policy with no disruption in the fan experience or with our team on the floor.”
The statement indicates that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s mandate overrides any exemptions or workarounds the NBA Players Association has letting Beal and other unvaccinated players continue playing barring government mandates.
So it is an ultimatum on unvaccinated players, perhaps even visiting team players given the verbiage. To this point, American cities with indoor event vaccine mandates haven’t tried to enforce it on visiting teams, including New York City. But with the spread of the omicron variant last month, perhaps there is support to go further in some markets. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen in D.C. Regardless, it appears that Monumental Sports believes that they can make the Wizards a fully vaccinated team by Jan. 15 due to the mandate.
I know, I’ve written about this topic multiple times this week given the near-daily news about the coronavirus cases in the NBA and new mandates by various cities. I really don’t like writing about it to be honest. But this topic is more important for the Wizards than other teams because Washington franchise player Bradley Beal, at least to this point, is last known to be unvaccinated against the coronavirus.
Now that this mandate is here, he risks losing pay for all home games starting Jan. 15 if he chooses to remain unvaccinated. That said, his position has softened as of early November.
If Beal already received a vaccine sometime in the last month, then this won’t be a distraction for the team given what the Brooklyn Nets have seen with Kyrie Irving, who hasn’t played yet this season due to New York City’s mandate. Beal is currently not able to play for the Wizards because he is under the NBA’s health and safety protocols, which indicate that he tested positive for the coronavirus a second time this year, the first time happening last summer. According to CDC guidelines, people who get the coronavirus shouldn’t get a vaccine until they are recovered.
The Washington Wizards’ first game with the D.C. mandate is on Jan. 15 when they host the Portland Trail Blazers.