University students in Manchester urged to avoid club nights in Freshers Week

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Students will face “sanctions” if they break coronavirus-related rules

Students at university in Greater Manchester have been asked to avoid unofficial Freshers Week club nights and told that they will face “sanctions” if they don’t follow social distancing guidelines, in a joint statement released by university leaders across Manchester.

Vice-chancellors and students’ union officers from the universities of Bolton, Manchester, Salford, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Royal Northern College of Music released a joint call to action on Covid-19 safety for students arriving in the region for the start of term.

The universities will be introducing initiatives such as community night-time support patrols in areas where lots of students live, such as South Manchester.

They will also be working with the NHS, local councils and the police to make sure all students are clear on the rules, whether they live in halls, private accommodation or at home.

And if the guidelines are broken, “all universities will use sanctions for students who do not adhere to rules on safe behaviours,” the statement said. It did not specify what these sanctions might involve. 

This year’s official university Freshers Week events throughout Greater Manchester have either been moved online or cancelled, the statement added, and students should not buy tickets to unofficial freshers events at club nights.

Instead, they should only attend events that are being promoted by their university of students’ union.

“This commitment to fighting Covid-19 continues as we bring students back on to campus and surrounding areas in our cities. As new and returning students join our community, we remind them of their responsibilities in minimising the transmission of the virus in our city region and in acting as ambassadors for our universities in the areas where they live and socialise,” the statement said.

Areas of Greater Manchester are already in partial local lockdown because of a surge of coronavirus infection rates across the region. As of 8 September, Bolton has been the hardest hit, with all restaurants, bars and pubs in the town ordered to close – although takeaway is still allowed.

This news follows warnings from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) that universities are “highly likely” to have “significant outbreaks” of coronavirus, and that they should try to minimise in-person contact as much as possible.

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