Report: Kyrie Irving cleared to rejoin Nets at home after New York relaxes COVID vaccine mandate

Kyrie Irving will be allowed to play at the Barclays Center after all.

New York City will relax its current private-sector COVID-19 mandate on Thursday and allow exemptions for athletes and entertainers, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

That ruling means that Irving can rejoin the Nets full time their final stretch of the season, and means that unvaccinated New York Yankees and New York Mets players can play in home games.

Sources: Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving will be cleared for home games as New York City will on Thursday change private sector vaccine mandate to allow exemption for athletes and entertainers in workplace. Unvaccinated Yankees and Mets players also now eligible for home games.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 23, 2022

The Yankees’ home opener is set for April 7, and the Mets will open at home on April 15. The NBA’s postseason play-in tournament is set to start on April 12.

"We're going to do it in the right way," New York Mayor Eric Adams said on Tuesday, via ESPN. "We're going to follow the science … we're going to make the right decision. And in New York, no matter what you do, this is 8.8 million people and 30 million opinions, so you're never going to satisfy New Yorkers, so you must go with the logic, your heart and the science."

Irving has been one of the strongest opponents to receiving the coronavirus vaccine in the NBA, though he hasn’t given a very clear reason for his stance. Under the current rules, Irving is not allowed to play with the Nets at home, though he can play on the road. Unvaccinated NBA players are allowed to play in New York, too.

Irving has averaged 27.7 points and 5.3 assists in 19 games this season. The Nets are currently in eighth in the Eastern Conference, and are set to play in the play-in tournament if the season ended today. Though Adams has faced criticism for the ruling that has kept Irving from playing in home games, he has had a simple response to it.

“Listen, you’re right,” Adams responded to a heckler earlier this month. Kyrie can play tomorrow. Get vaccinated.”

With baseball, both unvaccinated Yankees and Mets players are still subject to the same ruling Irving is. Three-time All-Star Aaron Judge has repeatedly refused to answer questions about his vaccine status, too.

It’s unclear how many players on each organization are still unvaccinated. The Mets were one of six teams that didn’t hit the 85% vaccination threshold last season, and baseball is the lowest vaccinated among the four major male sports in the country, per ESPN.

This change, though, will allow for those players to compete in 81 home games they are otherwise looking at missing. Unvaccinated baseball players across the league will still be unable to play against the Blue Jays in Toronto, however, as the Canadian government is still requiring that all visitors be fully vaccinated.

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