It has finally been decided that the 2020-21 NBA season will start on December 22. It is the shortest off-season in NBA history, with the finals having just ended on October 11. The NBA only has six weeks to prepare arenas and personnel for the new season, but questions about COVID-19 safety remain unresolved.

On that note, for teams that haven't played games since March, it is also historically the longest off-season.

The league has no first-hand experience on how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. After the coronavirus was detected on an active player last March, the league suspended all games and implemented a "bubble environment" a few months later to finish the season. This coming season, with fans being allowed to watch in arenas across the USA, NBPA President Chris Paul said he would need to sign-off on established safety protocols before the season can begin.

According to CBS Sports, due to the large number of COVID-19 patients in the USA, daily testing will likely be done for all teams. However, who will pay for the tests and how this will be implemented is still under negotiation.

There is also talk about requiring all fans in the stands to wear masks. Arenas are to be filled only to 25-50% of capacity, and all court-side seats will remain unfilled.

Commissioner Adam Silver has mentioned that protocols for entering and leaving the 2019-2020 bubble can be used for upcoming arena games. While NBA organisations and media staff were quarantined upon entering the bubble, Disney staff were not. The league hopes that screening tests used on Disney staff in the bubble can be used for fans.

Maintaining social distancing before, during, and after games is also an integral part of COVID-19 safety. The league has yet to release a memo on how this will be handled by arenas.

Given that players will play in their home arenas (except maybe for the Toronto Raptors), it will mean that half of the NBA teams will travel to other cities to play games at any given week. The league promises to reduce travel on team schedules. but how this is possible while remaining fair to all teams is still in the planning stage.

The NBA halted the season on March 11, 2020 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive for deadly COVID-19 GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Jeenah Moon