Thursday, 29 Oct 2020

Hundreds of students cram into halls for illegal rave as cases soar

Hundreds of students were filmed climbing on top of ping pong tables and screaming along to music at an illegal rave at a halls of residence in Coventry.

At least 200 people are thought to have crammed into a common room at Arundel House, close to Coventry University’s main campus, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

A video of the party entitled ‘no sleep in the C.O.V’ shows crowds of people ignoring social distancing guidelines and the rule of six.

The footage emerged as thousands of students across the country are having to self-isolate due to coronavirus outbreaks at accommodation blocks.

A spokesman from Coventry University said it was aware of the incident and that any students found to be in breach of the institutions’ code of conduct could face disciplinary proceedings.

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Police said an agreement had been reached to shut down some communal areas in the accommodation and beef up security in light of the gathering.

An investigation is also underway to determine if the party had been planned.

Up to 4,000 students across Britain are now thought to be self-isolating for a fortnight after more than 500 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed across at least 32 universities.

The University of Exeter became the latest institute to impose a ‘soft lockdown’ on its students, asking them not to socialise in other people’s residences and to only mix with people within their household.

More than half of the cases confirmed in the previous week across Exeter were traced to the university. Officials believe the main source of cases is students arriving having already been infected elsewhere in the country, and then passing it onto their housemates. 

Elsewhere, 1,700 students are under lockdown at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) campuses of Birley and Cambridge Halls.

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, dubbed the ‘invisible man’ by the opposition, confirmed some university students will have to cut short their term and self-isolate for a fortnight in order to be allowed home for Christmas. 

The government has been under-fire for its handling of the pandemic as coronavirus spread across campuses amid testing shortages, with freshers saying they ‘feel like prisoners’ weeks into their first term after being put on lockdown.

A Coventry University spokesperson said they were ‘deeply concerned by the scenes in the video and strongly condemn the blatant breaches of the rule of six and other guidelines’.

The statement continued: ‘We have introduced a code of conduct for students and shared this widely with them ahead of the weekend.

‘This code of conduct makes it clear that a failure to follow university and Government health, safety and wellbeing requirements will constitute a breach of the university’s disciplinary regulations and may be dealt with as a matter of misconduct. 

‘If any of those involved in the video are found to be students of Coventry University and in breach of the code of conduct, we will take appropriate action. 

A spokesman for Coventry Police said they are examining CCTV and would take action if they found evidence the party was planned.

‘We attended Arundel House today (September 29) following reports of a large gathering of students in the early hours of this morning. It’s believed around 200 people may have been present in a common room.

‘We will be examining CCTV and will take action if evidence comes to light that this was a planned party.

‘We have liaised with management at the student accommodation block and they have agreed to close some communal areas and to increase security.

‘We have also arranged a Safer Students stall in Arundel House tomorrow to reiterate CoVID-19 regulations and the consequences should those regulations be flouted.’

A spokesman for NIDO, which runs Arundel House, added that steps were immediately taken to deal with the gathering, ‘including calling the police for assistance’.

They said ‘police were unfortunately unable to attend at the time’ and ‘understand that they are under a lot of strain due to the number of similar incidents, both in Coventry and nationally’.

‘We are in close contact with FutureLets at Coventry University and are assisting the local authorities with their investigation,’ the statement said.

It added that new measures to stop the virus spreading had been introduced in the halls.

‘In line with government advice, we are reinforcing our zero tolerance policy to different households mixing and have put in place stringent Covid-19 related measures, including the installation of Perspex screens at reception and hand sanitiser stations throughout the building, the posting of social distancing guidance and measures, ensuring PPE is worn by all staff outside of the office and providing residents with regular updates on the latest government guidance.

‘We have also now restricted all visitors to the building, closed communal areas, and have stepped up security across our residences to oversee these policies. We do not want the actions of a few to affect the experience of many.’

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