NBA referees to be vaccinated this season

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NBA referees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to officiate games this season.

The NBA announced on Saturday that it had struck a deal with the National Basketball Referees Association that ensured all whistleblowers were required to be vaccinated.

Part of the referees' agreement with the NBA also says that those working games will receive booster shots once they become recommended.

The NBRA voting on the issue took place earlier this week.

The agreement with the referees was revealed one day after the league told its teams that anyone within close proximity - defined in most cases as being 15 feet - of players and referees will also have to be vaccinated.

That mandate covers, among others, coaches, support staff travelling with teams, locker room attendants and those working at official scorer's tables in NBA arenas.

Players are not required to be fully vaccinated, though many were last season after the league encouraged them to do so by agreeing to relax some health and safety protocols for those who were.

Those included fewer mandated coronavirus tests, no quarantine requirements following contact tracing issues and more freedoms on road trips.

As is the case with team employees, any referees who have a documented medical or religious reason to not be vaccinated may seek an exemption.

Without that exemption, any unvaccinated referee will not be eligible to work games, the NBA said.

Referees have been dealing with enhanced safety measures since NBA play resumed in the re-start bubble at Walt Disney World in Florida in July 2020, including having small cloth bags over their whistles and changes in how - and how often - they travel.

NBA training camps open in late September.

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