Covid restrictions on University of Exeter students extended by a week

Restrictions on University of Exeter students meeting indoors with anyone who is not part of their household have been extended by an extra week. 

The move comes after more than 80 per cent of the 532 Covid-19 cases recorded in the city in the past seven days were attributed to the university.

Students were initially told on September 28 not to socialise with other households for a fortnight.

They have now been asked to obey the restrictions until October 19.

University of Exeter registrar and secretary Mike Shore-Nye said in a statement: “We review our data, current measures and future plans with Public Health England on a daily basis.

“PHE has advised us that if we are able to retain our current levels of vigilance then we may begin to see the rate of cases gradually reduce.

“They have also advised us that relaxation of our current measures too early could potentially have the opposite effect, encouraging increased transmission once again, before case numbers have reduced.

“These cases are almost all within student households and residences.

“There remains no evidence of transmission to the wider community, nor of transmission within our Covid-secure teaching spaces. We have seen no increase in the small number of staff cases.

“For this reason, and following PHE guidance, I am asking students based in Exeter to continue not to meet indoors with students who are not part of your household for a further week, until October 19.

“The exceptions are for educational sessions on campus, working or volunteering, organised sports and in the case of emergency when someone is vulnerable or in danger.

“I know that this will come as a disappointment, but PHE tells us that this specific measure is having a significant impact on the transmission of the disease, both between students and from students to the wider community.

“Continuing to bear down on the transmission of Covid-19 is the only way we can keep our community safe and avoid further restrictions. We will review this measure next week.”

Mr Shore-Nye added: “We have introduced a number of new measures in university residences including the re-enforcement of the need to wear face-coverings in corridors and communal areas, issuing additional wipes and hand sanitiser bottles and making changes to cleaning schedules to ensure we are targeting high touch-point areas more frequently.

“We also know that it is only by consistently and rigorously following these measures that we will be able to bring the spread of the virus under control, allowing us to provide more face-to-face teaching and reintroduce many of the opportunities, activities and events that we know our students want and need.

“PHE has given us strong assurance that the steps we are taking are the right ones and that following them closely gives us the best chance of a return to something approaching normality soon.

“These days are particularly hard for those of you who are self-isolating, and we have introduced a range of measures to try to support you through this time.

“We have expanded our testing capacity so you can get a test in good time should you need one.

“We have introduced grocery delivery services and a ‘digital hamper’ scheme to give you access to entertainment platforms.

“For those of you who are coming out of periods of self-isolation, I would like to thank you for your resolve and for helping to keep those around you safe.

“I must also remind you that we all need to continue to abide by the restrictions and guidelines currently in place.

“Continue to follow the social distancing rules, wear your face-covering indoors and in busy places, and wash your hands thoroughly and often.

“We all need to be mindful and considerate, on and off campus, ensuring that we maintain social distancing and good hygiene practices with members of the community.

Devon and Cornwall Police have informed us that they will be increasing their patrols in Exeter with the aim of supporting the Rule of Six amongst the community.

“You may have a household which is larger than six, but please be aware and try to avoid causing concern by keeping group sizes low when you are out.

“I hope that, through our collective efforts, we will be able to get through this difficult period together.

“Public Health England, Exeter City Council, Devon County Council and Cornwall Council are very supportive of the work we are all doing together to contain the spread of Covid-19 and to protect those we live, work and study amongst.”

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Tighter restrictions for University of Exeter students after rise in Covid-19 cases

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