The NBA’s teams, including the Washington Wizards, will submit a list of players who did not get the coronavirus vaccine by Friday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Wojnarowski also noted that 97 percent of players have been vaccinated against the coronavirus and 60 percent have received booster shots. The latter figure will be a lagging one, in part because it is dependent on when one’s most recent dose of the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer or Moderna vaccine was.
Teams must furnish the league office with a list of unvaccinated players by Friday, memo says. The NBA says 97 percent of its players are vaccinated, and sources say more than 60 percent have received booster shots.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 7, 2021
The news comes as some jurisdictions with NBA teams impose tougher coronavirus restrictions as the omicron variant begins to spread. Let’s go through those new restrictions and then see how they apply to the Wizards.
Canada will enforce a travel ban on all unvaccinated professional athletes on Jan. 15
The NBA has one team in Canada, the Toronto Raptors. Marco Mendicino, the Minister of Public Safety announced that professional athletes, including NBA players traveling from the United States will not be allowed to enter starting Jan. 15, 2022. The announcement was made on November 19, but Wojnarowski’s tweet regarding the NBA’s internal memo brought it out again into the spotlight.
It is not clear whether the rule affects non-Canadian athletes only or if it affects Canadian athletes as well.
Unvaccinated athletes (at least until Jan. 15) have been allowed to travel to Canada because the government determined that it was in the national interest under an exemption. That national interest exemption has now been removed, prompting the ban.
New York City tightens up vaccine mandates on indoor events to include children aged 5-11
On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced some new requirements for attendance of indoor events like NBA games. Starting on Dec. 15, all children must show proof of at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. And starting on Dec. 27, all attendees ages 12 and up must show proof of full vaccination (two for the Moderna and Pfizer, or one for the Johnson & Johnson). These mandates are in addition to a private-sector worker vaccine mandate.
De Blasio will only be Mayor of New York City through Jan. 1, 2022, when Eric Adams takes over. While Adams is a member of the Democratic Party, like de Blasio, he has expressed a more pro-business stance while campaigning and may be more willing to relax some of the mandates de Blasio has, especially the private-sector mandate. But Adams has expressed support of the vaccine mandate on indoor events.
What does this mean for the Wizards?
In short, the new mandates don’t affect them at all, for now. So consider the Wizards lucky.
Washington has up to two players who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus. Bradley Beal has not been vaccinated as late as early November. In addition, Kyle Kuzma has openly not confirmed or denied that he is vaccinated. So Beal at least faces the possibility of the negative ramifications of such restrictions.
Why are the new mandates not affecting the Wizards? First, regarding the Canadian mandate, the Wizards have already played the Raptors twice on the road, first for the opener on Oct. 20 and the second on Dec. 5. The new restrictions still won’t happen for at least another month and Washington won’t go back to Toronto until a possible NBA playoff round.
As for the New York restrictions, they do not apply to road teams. This is why Beal has been able to play the Nets at Barclays Center while Kyrie Irving is essentially banned from the team. The Wizards will play in New York City on Dec. 21 to face the Nets and Dec. 23 to face Knicks in back-to-back games, right before all the new mandates are in effect. The Wizards will have one more road game against the Knicks on Mar. 18, after Adams takes office.
Canada is another country where they are more open to tougher restrictions. But other American cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, could tighten up their existing indoor event mandates now that New York has done so.
Will we see one in D.C.? Mayor Muriel Bowser has been reluctant to put such a mandate locally on indoor events, but there are existing mandates on local government workers. Things may be tightening up given that D.C. re-implemented a face mask advisory, two weeks after removing a mandate.
At the end of the day, the Wizards appear to be dodging the wrath of coronavirus restrictions, especially in the case with Toronto. But if the NBA wants a list of all the unvaccinated players, then it seems that there could be some other plan in the works without government intervention.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.