Aiming to prevent further spread of COVID-19, Duke is temporarily suspending food and beverage concession and hospitality services during home athletic events, most notably basketball games at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The change, announced by the school on Friday night, begins with Saturday’s 8 p.m. game between the No. 2 Blue Devils and Miami. The policy is in effect until Jan. 21, meaning food and beverages will also not be served for Duke’s Jan. 15 home game with N.C. State.
This will also impact the No. 17 Duke women’s basketball team’s Jan. 13 home game with Virginia Tech.
The Club Blue Devil hospitality area, which offers alcoholic beverages and food options for spectators attending games, will be closed for Saturday’s game with Miami. But the school is looking at creating an outdoor venue, weather permitting, for future games.
With the rising number of COVID-19 cases both locally and nationwide, Duke announced Dec. 31 it would not hold in-person classes until Jan. 18. While residence halls are open, all in-person dining has been halted. Only grab-and-go options are available.
But food and beverages were served for spectators during Duke’s women’s basketball win over Notre Dame on Jan. 2 and for the men’s team’s win over Georgia Tech on Tuesday night. Now the school is bringing its athletic venues in line with the campus rules on in-person dining.
The omicron and delta variants of COVID-19 have caused a spike in cases over the past three weeks. According to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, the percent of tests positive for COVID-19 reached 31.2% with Friday’s update. That’s far above the state’s goal of 5% positives.
After not allowing any spectators at home basketball games last season, Duke is back to full capacity this season but with a mask mandate in place. Also, anyone entering Cameron Indoor must show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test result within the last 72 hours.
“Duke athletics thanks its fans for remaining diligent in adhering to the university’s indoor mask mandates,” a school statement said, “and again reminds its patrons to wear proper, tight-fitting masks that cover the nose and mouth when indoors on campus.”
Students returning to campus for the spring semester were tested for COVID-19 and asked to sequester until their receiving their result. Some students have complained that full crowds were allowed to gather for basketball games while the school wasn’t allowing in-person classes.
When announcing the pause on in-person classes last week, Duke’s administration said all campus venues would remain open to the public and any events could be held at the discretion of the sponsoring department.
Duke’s men’s basketball team experienced a COVID-19 outbreak that caused two games, Dec. 29 at Clemson and Jan. 1 at Notre Dame, to be postponed. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said the virus “ran through the whole team” while also impacting the staff and their families.
The Blue Devils had their first full practice since Christmas on last Monday, the day before they beat Georgia Tech, 69-57.
Duke’s women’s team saw its scheduled home game with Georgia Tech postponed on Thursday night due to COVID-19 cases with in the Yellow Jackets’ program.