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CHAMPAIGN — The city of Champaign will begin closing two downtown public parking lots at 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays for safety’s sake.

Beginning Friday, nobody will be allowed to park after 9 p.m. in the lots at Neil and Washington streets and Walnut and Washington streets on those two evenings, though cars that are in the lot before 9 p.m. can still be retrieved from both lots until 2:30 a.m., city officials said.

Drivers who leave their vehicles in either lot after 2:30 a.m. will have to wait until 7 a.m., when the lots reopen, to retrieve them.

Downtown visitors who need more flexibility for parking hours are advised to use the parking deck at 123 W. Hill St.

An announcement from the city said the early lot closures are “to discourage certain unlawful activities, including the public consumption of alcohol” and to promote the use of the lots for parking only.

Champaign police have responded to about 112 reports of shots fired this year. One recent incident occurred about 2:45 a.m. Saturday in the central downtown area.

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