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Sources: NBA expects full stadiums for 2021-22 season amid partnership with biometric screening company

With COVID-19 testing becoming more available and as more vaccinations are being administered, the NBA expects all stadiums to be at full capacity with fans next season and is hopeful that it can safely welcome more fans to stadiums this season, league sources said.

A key aspect of that effort is the NBA’s new multi-year partnership with Clear, a biometric detection company known for its accelerated security process at hundreds of airports around the world. The partnership makes Clear’s COVID-19 health screening technology available to all 30 teams in their NBA stadiums, and is expected to help more fans return to games, though how to use the equipment is up to each team. technology.

The partnership, which is in effect, was announced Wednesday morning. A third of the league, including the Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs and Atlanta Hawks, already use the Clear’s Health Pass program, which includes a combination of health surveys and secure links to COVID-19 lab results and vaccination records. , for your safety protocols for employees or fans in the arena.

Currently, there are no plans for players to use the Clear service, league sources said.

More than two-thirds of NBA teams allow a limited number of fans to attend games in their stadiums, although the number varies depending on the evolution of each state’s regulations during the pandemic. The Phoenix Suns announced that they are increasing capacity to 3,000 fans in home games. The Milwaukee Bucks announced that they were expanding attendance to 18% of capacity, or approximately 3,280 fans.

The Magic were the first team to use Clear’s services, registering in late December, just before the start of the season. Talks for a league-wide partnership began in early September. This is Clear’s first league-level partnership with a professional sports league, but the company has been working with teams in MLS, MLB, NHL, and the NFL. Clear first launched this program in a league format with the NHL’s bubble season in two Canadian cities last year.

All 30 NBA teams are not required to use the program, league sources said.

As far as attendance is concerned, fans can download the Clear app and upload an ID along with a selfie. To link COVID-19 test results, fans log into their test account through the app and the results will be linked to their health pass.

Before entering the venue, fans can open the app, verify their identity with another selfie, and then answer health survey questions (it is also expected that there will be an unspecified number of Clear kiosks where fans are given a temperature test and scan your QR code). Fans receive a red or green notification depending on their COVID-related health information.

A spokesperson for Clear noted that the arenas only receive information about whether a fan has passed the access requirements and not the individual’s private health information.

“You can do this with or without hardware,” Clear CEO Caryn Seidman Becker told ESPN in an interview. “It can be purely mobile to drive performance. I look around the world and Australia is back. New Zealand is back. China is back. It depends on how it develops, but obviously the goal is 100%.”

He added that as more people get vaccinated and rapid tests and other measures improve, “I am very optimistic that it can go back to full stadiums” (the Clear program is scalable, the spokesperson said, and could make it easier for thousands to enter. from fanatics to the arenas).

In terms of evolving restrictions, teams hosting fans must still comply with applicable state and / or local requirements, as well as league health and safety protocols, league sources said. One aspect related to fans concerns the size of the capsules. A capsule is a group of ticketed seats next to each other that represent a party that attends the game together and therefore does not need to be physically distanced from each other.

Teams can create fully vaccinated fan sections in which social distancing is subject only to state and / or local requirements, league sources added. But in stadiums with such sections, vaccination must be verified digitally or manually, signage must be present, and other league protocols such as the use of face masks must be followed, those sources said.

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