NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS closing locker rooms amid virus scare
MIAMI (AP) — The NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer are closing access to locker rooms and clubhouses to all nonessential personnel, including media, in response to the coronavirus crisis, the leagues announced in a joint statement Monday night.
They said they made the decision “after consultation with infectious disease and public health experts.” The NBA, in a call with teams earlier Monday, stressed that the move is not to ban reporters but to ensure the safety of players and staff in those areas.
The statement, in part, read: “Given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice. Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting.”
The changes, which the leagues say are temporary, will begin Tuesday — though some NHL teams began putting them into use this past weekend and the Buffalo Sabres did the same on Monday night. The NBA said interviews with players would continue in different settings, stressing a gap of 6-to-8 feet between reporters and interview subjects.
“I don’t know that we have our arms around how significant of an issue this is at this point, so if the league is recommending or their policy is we want to take step by step type precautions, then we want to go along with that,” Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.
It is unclear how long the new policies will last.
“No disrespect, but that’s the last thing I’m worried about,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said prior to Denver’s NBA game against Milwaukee on Monday night.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.
“Roses are red, Violets are blue, Wash your hands! WASH YOUR HANDS!” Enes Kanter of the Boston Celtics wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, there is already a clear sense of the new normal in the U.S.
The Miami Heat held their annual gala at a theater in Miami Beach on Monday night, albeit a bit differently than usual. The team’s three NBA
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