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Coronavirus: Raptors to resume training at Toronto facility in limited capacity

Toronto Raptors Marc Gasol goes to the basket during the Raptors training camp practice Monday, September 30, 2019 at Laval University in Quebec City. .
Toronto Raptors Marc Gasol goes to the basket during the Raptors training camp practice Monday, September 30, 2019 at Laval University in Quebec City. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

The Toronto Raptors will start to allow players to resume training at the team’s OVO Athletic Centre next week.

The team said that after working closely with the local government, infectious disease experts and public health authorities, players will be allowed to access the facility starting the week of May 11.

The access comes two months to the day after the league suspended play on March 11. Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus that day, and the NBA shuttered within hours.

READ MORE: Ontario eases restrictions, allowing sports training facilities to open

For players choosing to access the OVO Athletic Centre, they will be required to adhere to a set of strict guidelines.

The team said access will be allowed to provide players time on the court for activities, such as shooting, that generally cannot be done at home. Players already have weights and other workout equipment at their homes for additional conditioning.

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The team stressed that the court is the only area that will be used by players and coaches as the locker rooms, weight rooms, medical facilities, offices and other areas of the building will remain closed.

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A league source told Global News that four players would be allowed in practice facilities at any given time, but the Raptors have decided to only allow one player at a time in the building. Each player will be accompanied by one coach. There will be no overlap between groups.

Staff members will be required to wear gloves and masks at all times when in the building, while players will wear masks at all times except when on court.

The team added that all spaces and equipment in the building will be thoroughly cleaned before and after each player uses the building. In addition, symptom and temperature checks will be done by the team’s medical staff before anyone can enter the building.

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While the NBA hasn’t announced any plans for what the remainder of the season will look like, Raptors General Manager Bobby Webster said in a conference call Friday that he remains hopeful.

READ MORE: Toronto mayor says early talks underway with Jays, Raps on possible return

“I’ve always been optimistic. It’s been a bit of my nature but I think by and large we want get back to action and I think it has it be done responsibly. It has to be done thoughtfully and I think that’s what we’re doing,” Webster said.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Portland Trailblazers have allowed their players to start accessing their training facilities starting Friday.

The Denver Nuggets are also expected to resume training next week.

While the news is welcomed, the league stresses that this is to ensure that the players will have a safe environment to workout but does not signal a return to play.

— With files from The Canadian Press