CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers announced that fans will be required to wear masks at all times in the arena except when actively eating or drinking starting with Friday’s home game versus Atlanta. 

The Cavs said that the new mask mandate will last through Jan. 31, 2022. The team said the decision to implement a mask requirement “is a result of continued monitoring of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Cuyahoga County and throughout the country in conjunction with local health experts.”

The announcement comes as a number of local events have been canceled or postponed due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Also on Wednesday, both the Cleveland area and the state set new COVID-19 hospitalziation records. 

A number of the Cavs’ NBA rivals require fans to either produce proof of COVID-19 vaccine or negative COVID-19 test. 

The team said that fans who do not have an approved mask at the time of entry will be provided one at no cost. 

As of Tuesday, seven Cavaliers were on the NBA’s COVID list. On Tuesday, leading scorer Darius Garland joined fellow starter Jarrett Allen and reserves Ed Davis, RJ Nembhard, Cedi Osman, Lamar Stevens and Dylan Windler on the list.