Tar Heel fans won’t be storming Franklin Street on Saturday if UNC beats Duke, town officials said Tuesday.
The announcement in a news release follows UNC’s February win over Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham. Roughly 1,000 Tar Heel fans rushed Franklin Street in celebration and in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions.
Saturday’s game will be at the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill.
The town is working with the university to prepare for the annual basketball rivalry, including how to handle celebrations and other activities on game day and after the game, according to a news release. They are telling the public to follow public health guidelines and find safe ways to watch the game and celebrate a Carolina victory, officials said.
UNC will host a virtual watch party for students, and town staff will be available in case of “the unexpected,” they said. The streets will not be closed to traffic.
“Governor Roy Cooper’s COVID-19 crowd limits prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people outdoors due to the risk of spreading the coronavirus,” said Kelly Drayton, the town’s emergency management coordinator.
“In fact, the Governor’s decision to stick to 50 people outdoors while loosening other restrictions should be a clear message about its importance. We must adhere to these public health guidelines to continue this important battle we’ve all been in for nearly a year,” she said.
The town is encouraging fans to visit downtown stores and restaurants earlier in the day to avoid crowds and be home in time for the 6 p.m. tip-off.
Another option is ordering takeout or delivery to eat while watching the game at home, officials said. The town has blue “to-go” parking spaces available for pickup orders on Franklin Street. Virtual or outdoor watch parties are another idea, town officials said.
The Orange County Health Department has a guide to safe celebrations. The town also has a page with information about what to do if you see a potential violation of the state’s COVID-19 gathering restrictions.