The NBA has seen an incredible percentage of players get vaccinated as the preseason has gotten underway, as 96 percent of the league has had at least one shot. There are a few holdouts still, most notably Kyrie Irving, and those players are going to face similar testing protocols and restrictions to movement while on the road as a year ago, while vaccinated players will have those restrictions mostly pulled off.
In some markets, players won’t be able to play home games if they aren’t vaccinated, which is currently the predicament the Nets find themselves in with Irving and are now facing a difficult decision about whether they can deal with him being in and out of the lineup as a part-time player. San Francisco and now L.A. also have vaccine mandates for those who live and work in those cities, but the only city where visiting players who aren’t vaccinated will face tougher restrictions is Toronto.
The NBA has gotten clearance from the government to have teams fly in and out of Toronto to play games this year, avoiding another relocation to Tampa, but for the small percentage of unvaccinated players, they will have to be on their best behavior. As Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Wednesday night, any unvaccinated player who leaves their hotel for anything beyond a team activity (so, a practice or game) will face criminal charges that could bring a six-month prison sentence.
Sources: NBA players were informed unvaccinated players who breach quarantine in Toronto face criminal offense. Unvaccinated players only able to leave hotel for team activities. Per Canada’s Quarantine Act, violations could lead to up to 6 months in prison and/or $750K in fines.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 7, 2021
That is quite the penalty and will require teams with any unvaccinated players to be sure those players are aware that they aren’t facing just a suspension or fine from the league for breaking protocol, but real punishment and criminal charges if they do so in Toronto this year.