The Los Angeles Lakers announced on Wednesday that after receiving guidance from health officials at both the state and local level, they have no plans to allow fans into their regular season games at Staples Center to begin the 2020-21 NBA season, and will continue to hold fan-less games “until further notice.”
Here is more information, courtesy of the team’s press release:
The health and safety of our fans, players, staff and community are our main priority and we will continue to work with state and local officials to come up with a plan to safely welcome fans back to STAPLES Center in adherence with local, State, and NBA guidelines.
We appreciate your continued support and look forward to coming together, when it is safe to do so, to celebrate the raising of our banner and the quest for another NBA championship.
The 2020-21 game schedule will be announced at a later date.
The Lakers announced this the same day that the NBA reportedly sent all 30 teams in the league a memo on coronavirus precautions they’ve have to take in order to be allowed to have fans:
For arena suites at 25% capacity or less, testing would not be required for fans. Teams would be permitted for 50% if all fans were tested or if local county's positivity rate is three percent or below and seven-day average of new cases per 100K residents is 10 or fewer. https://t.co/Rr0YMpebdb— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 11, 2020
All fans are required to wear masks (above age of 2), socially distance, undergo symptom surveys. Food and beverage are not allowed for those within 30 feet of court. Teams would have option to install a plexiglass behind benches. https://t.co/Rr0YMpebdb— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 11, 2020
Given that a local coronavirus case spike in Los Angeles — and an overall rising number of cases nationwide — had already forced the team to indefinitely postpone its championship parade, this is hardly a surprise, but it’s still notable that the Lakers are the first NBA team to come out and say as much.
For comparison, the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday announced the protocols they’d attempt to use to make their games safe to attend:
Thunder say to create appropriate and safe distancing, there will be reduced game seating capacity, six-foot seating distance between guest groups, required face masks, contactless, self-service ticket scanning & concession purchases, and strict hygiene & disinfecting procedures.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) November 11, 2020
The reality is that given how strict the California government has been about reopening and the continual rise in daily cases in Los Angeles, the Lakers were unlikely to be allowed to welcome fans in to start next season anyway. With that said, they deserve credit for voluntarily committing to forgo ticket revenue without being forced to, and choosing to protect their fans and this community as a whole instead.
Jeanie Buss and the entire organization should be applauded for doing the right thing here, even it won’t be a popular choice with everyone. We all miss going to basketball games, but this is just the responsible thing to do until this pandemic is better under control.