What will Disney life be like for the Heat? Details from the NBA’s 113-page safety plan

Tribune Content Agency

Life inside the NBA’s Disney bubble for the Miami Heat will include a Players Only Lounge, time in the pool, trails for running or riding bikes, salon services, golf course access, 24-hour VIP concierge and daily entertainment.

Those are just some of the amenities that will be offered to the 22 NBA teams that will convene just outside of Orlando at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to resume the 2019-20 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams will begin to arrive at Disney on July 7 and training camps in the Central Florida bubble will run from July 9-29 and will include three scrimmages per team, with the season restarting on July 30 and ending in October.

But the fanless quarantine-type environment — and the preparation required from players and staff to enter the bubble — also features strict guidelines on physical distancing, mask-wearing, hand and respiratory hygiene, reduced use of shared objects and spaces, cleaning and disinfection procedures and regular health monitoring and diagnostic testing for teams to follow. The NBA released specific protocols to players and teams for the resumption of the season on Tuesday in an 113-page health and safety manual, according to a league source.

Among the highlights from the 113-page manual:

— All players must return to their team’s market by Monday for mandatory COVID-19 testing for players and staff that begins Tuesday. Once in market, players are expected to remain at home and only leave for workouts or treatment at the team facility or for essential activities.

— Voluntary individual workouts at team facilities will continue through the end of June. Mandatory individual workouts at team facilities can begin July 1 under controlled conditions.

— Upon arrival at the NBA’s Disney campus, players and team staff will need to quarantine in their hotel rooms until they return two negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart.

— COVID-19 testing will be done “regularly,” in addition to daily temperature and symptom checks for everyone who is housed in the bubble. The manual says: “The occurrence of a small or otherwise expected number of COVID-19 cases will not require a decision to suspend or cancel the resumption of the 2019-20 season.”

— Once teams complete their two-day period of isolation upon arrival at Disney, group workouts will be allowed to begin. Whenever possible, each team will have a three-hour window for exclusive use of available practice courts, with a training room and weight room available within walking distance of the courts.

— All players in the bubble will be provided and required to wear a Disney MagicBand at all times (other than when participating in workouts, practices and games). The MagicBand will provide access control functions as a hotel room key, for security checkpoints and to check-in for COVID-19 testing and other medical screening.

— Nobody in the bubble will be allowed in anyone else’s individual hotel room.

— Through July 21, teams will be limited to interacting with those staying at their designated hotel to limit potential spread of COVID-19. Three hotels are being used to house teams.

— Individuals in the bubble will need to wear a mask at all times when on campus except while eating or drinking, in their individual rooms, engaged in an outdoor activity, and during team or individual workouts, practices and games.

— Nobody will be stopped from leaving the bubble, but the expectation is that players and team staff will remain on the NBA campus to minimize the risk of COVID-19 at all times other than for a few exceptions with prior league approval. If a player leaves the bubble without approval, they will be subject to the deep nasal swab test and at least 10 days of quarantining on campus.

— The league asks that players and team staff avoid spitting or clearing their nose on the court, wiping the ball with their jersey, licking their hands and unnecessarily touching their mouthguard during scrimmages and games.

— Teams will play three scrimmage games from July 22-29.

— Team benches during games will consist of two rows. The first row will include participating players and coaches, with those players and coaches not required to wear masks. The second row will include other players and coaches, with those players and coaches required to wear masks at all times except for active players who are in uniform and eligible to play but need to sit in the second row for physical distancing purposes.

— Referees, statisticians and the public address announcer will not be required to wear a mask during games. People in the arena who will be required to wear a mask at all times include: medical and training staff, the scorer’s table crew, on-court broadcast staff, in-arena staff and individuals observing games from a distance like owners, executives and media who are not residing in the bubble.

— For any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 and does not need to be hospitalized, they can remain on campus but must enter the NBA’s “Isolation Housing.” This will be a house, hotel or other facility different than the individual’s previous location. Those individuals will then be retested to confirm the positive case, and they will remain in isolation until they are without COVID-19 symptoms, return two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests more than 24 hours apart, and then must be cleared “following a medical evaluation by an NBA-designated consulting infectious disease physician.” Prior to returning to play after testing positive, players will be required to undergo cardiac screening. Close contacts of an infected individual may also be required to undergo additional testing or be closely monitored.

— Player guests will not be allowed inside the bubble until late August after the first round of the playoffs, which means players will have to be without family at Disney for nearly two months. All player guests will need to undergo three days of self-quarantining outside of the bubble while producing negative COVID-19 tests before entering the NBA campus, where they will need to quarantine for four additional days before they are allowed to interact with the player they are visiting.

— Each team can initially bring up to 35 people into the bubble as part of the basketball operations group, and that includes up to 17 players (including two two-way contract players). The traveling party must also include at least one athletic trainer, one strength and conditioning coach, one equipment manager, one security staff member and one senior basketball executive.

— Players, team staff, and player guests will be required to certify in writing that they will follow all pre-arrival protocols and league rules while on the NBA campus. If players don’t follow protocols, the player may be disciplined with a warning, fine, suspension and/or removal from the bubble. Campus participants are encouraged to report any potential violation of the protocols by any individual to the league office or they may report anonymously through a hotline the league is establishing.

The hotel assignments based on seeding were also released, with the NBA using three Disney hotels to house the 22 teams.

The Heat will be at the Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs, along with the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz. Teams are expected to scrimmage only against other teams residing in the same hotel.

For now, the Heat continues voluntary individual workouts continue at its AmericanAirlines Arena practice facility. Miami began allowing players to participate in individual workouts at the team facility on May 13, and attendance from players has been very strong, according to a league source.

Individual workouts had been limited to one player and one coach per basket, but the NBA began allowing two coaches to work out a player on Friday.

The Heat currently plans to travel to the Disney site by bus on July 9, at which point they will enter the league’s bubble. Miami typically does all travel — including for road games against the Orlando Magic — by plane.

With each of the 22 teams playing eight “seeding games” starting on July 30 that will be added to their current regular-season records to determine the final standings, the postseason is set to begin on Aug. 17. Currently with the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 41-24, the Heat has already clinched a spot in the playoffs.

The NBA is allowing players to opt out of the bubble plan and they will not be penalized for staying home, but those players will not be paid for missed games unless they are ruled to be an excused or protected player. Players who choose to opt out of the remainder of the season must notify their team by June 24.

Forward Solomon Hill returned to Miami on Wednesday, which means the Heat’s entire 17-man roster is now in South Florida. Hill, who spent most of the league shutdown in the Los Angeles area, was the last to return to Miami of the three Heat players who spent the majority of the hiatus in California with Jimmy Butler and Andre Iguodala previously making the trip back.

There has not been significant pushback from the 17 players on the Heat’s roster on returning to complete the season, according to league sources, with most players already indicating they want to play when games resume at Disney. But there are some on the roster who were waiting for details and health protocols surrounding the NBA’s plan to be finalized before they made a final decision.


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