Since the beginning of December, more than 300 players have entered protocols, per ESPN. Thankfully, the number of players joining the list has decreased dramatically in recent weeks. More than 500 tier 1 staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 this season, according to ESPN.
Another change: Some players can now clear health and safety protocols and return to play as soon as five days after testing positive, provided that they are asymptomatic, vaccinated and likely not contagious. Between the tweaked return-to-play policy and the new rule mandating teams to use hardship exceptions when multiple players are in protocols, the NBA is aiming to avoid postponing more games.
The Raptors played two December home games at 50% capacity and, as of Dec. 31, can allow no more than 1,000 people to enter Scotiabank Arena, per a provincial mandate.