After bursting its own bubble for the 2021 season, the NBA has come up with a new protocol to protect players, fans and employees from the spread of COVID-19.
The league and Clear have formed a new dream team, with the latter’s health pass technology now available for use by all NBA venues across the U.S., about one-third of which are already using the company’s digital tools to screen fans or employees for compliance with COVID safety guidelines.
The Health Pass technology, a free addition to the existing Clear platform, allows users to add COVID test results and, soon, vaccine records to their accounts for verification before entering a venue, where they may also be prompted to undergo a temperature scan and complete a survey about recent symptoms and travel in accordance with each location’s requirements.
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Clear’s identity verification kiosks are perhaps most recognizable from their use in airports, where travelers registered with the company can move more quickly through security and customs. After setting up a Clear account, users can access their linked health or other information at kiosks located at the entrance to each arena using a QR code or biometric facial recognition.
In addition to the NBA, the health pass is already in use by several other sports organizations, as well as the state of Hawaii, MGM Resorts, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Founders Table restaurant group and more.
“Trust and transparency are Clear’s No. 1 priority, and with Health Pass, our goal is to get people back to what they love while ensuring they are always in control of their health information,” CEO Caryn Seidman-Becker said in a release. “As states reopen sports venues to fans in the U.S., we are thrilled to team up with the NBA to help create safer fan experiences and reimagine the future of sports.”
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The NBA’s updated entry requirements pose a stark contrast to those of the previous basketball season. After play was suspended in March 2020 because of the pandemic, the teams closest to qualifying for the playoffs set up camp at Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando and played the remaining regular season, playoff and championship games in that “bubble” with no fans in attendance.
Those strict measures worked: By the end of the NBA Finals in October, the league reported exactly zero positive COVID tests throughout the bubble’s three-month run. Meanwhile, with players back on their home courts for the 2021 season, daily rapid tests have produced a handful of positive results almost every week.