New York City plans to soon lift one of its Covid-19 vaccine requirements for indoor activities, but Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who is unvaccinated, still won’t be able to play home games due to the city’s workplace vaccine mandate, a city official confirmed to CNN.
However, Irving would be able to attend home games as a spectator.
News of the restrictions were first reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
On Sunday, New York Mayor Eric Adams announced that provided the city’s Covid-19 numbers continue to go down, he plans to lift the city’s requirement to show proof of vaccination for indoor activities such as dining, attending gyms and entertainment facilities for those ages 5 and older starting March 7.
The move was part of a general relaxing of Covid restrictions as the Omicron wave of cases has sharply receded over the past month. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Sunday students will no longer be required to wear masks in schools, and Adams said he plans to remove the school mask mandate next week.
However, the city still has a mandate requiring all workers who perform in-person work or interact with the public to show proof they have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
“Businesses may not allow any unvaccinated workers to come to their workplace,” the city’s website explains.
The city does allow an exception for non-NYC resident entertainers and professional athletes. That means unvaccinated players on other NBA teams are still allowed to play against the Nets at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver noted that paradox on ESPN’s “Get Up” two weeks ago, saying the city rule “doesn’t quite make sense to me.”
“This law in New York, the oddity of it to me is that it only applies to home players,” Silver said. “I think if ultimately that rule is about protecting people who are in the arena, it just doesn’t quite make sense to me that an away player who is unvaccinated can play in Barclays but the home player can’t. To me that’s a reason they should take a look at that ordinance.”
He added that about 97% to 98% of NBA players were vaccinated.
As an unvaccinated player, Irving – a seven-time NBA All-Star – made his return to the Nets in January, playing in only road games due to the city’s mandate. Irving has played in 15 games this season, averaging 25.1 points per game and 5.3 assists. The Nets are 32-29 on the season.
The NBA directed comment to the mayor’s office. CNN has reached out to the Nets for comment but did not immediately hear back.
CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.