Concern is mounting that continued partying by university students risks fuelling the spread of coronavirus and could expose the rest of the community to infection.
Diana Swain, chair of the Chandos Neighbourhood Association, said in a recent email: “We are very alarmed at the risky situation we now find ourselves in with these students paying no regard to the rules, using our shops and passing us on narrow pavements.”
In recent weeks, residents have been “reporting daily of students from different households mixing at large parties of 25-30 in each other’s houses—certainly not observing the general societal rules to contain the pandemic,” she said.
“Our neighbourhood is one of families, working people, including medical staff, and people of a certain age who have all been very aware of social distancing etc. … This is not to mention the noise element of these gatherings.”
Diana made her comments in an email to the police, asking for a more hands-on approach to policing student parties.
Fears that relaxed behaviour by young people could cause a new spike in virus cases have also been raised elsewhere in the UK.
Residents in Durham have expressed concern they may be placed at risk when the university there reopens in September, the Daily Telegraph reported on 28 July. “We have a large number of students living in Durham city, next door to residents,” the chairman of a local community group is quoted as saying. “We have quite an elderly population here who are at risk.”
As in Bristol, students have already begun returning to Durham. The report says the community group has written to Public Health England complaining that students’ “indifference” to social-distancing rules has been “quite staggering”. Many Bristol residents have echoed these concerns in recent weeks as complaints of noisy student parties soar.
For July alone, The Noise Pages has received more than 60 reports of noise incidents, mostly from the Chandos and Hampton Road areas. That’s double the normal tally for the September-October party season, when students traditionally greet a new academic year.
Residents looking forward to the quiet of summer, when the city is usually empty of students, have been dismayed to see rented houses filling up again as students move in early to catch up on parties they missed during lockdown.
Universities accused of ignoring local residents’ fears over students returning en masse for Freshers’ Week Daily Telegraph, 28 July 2020 (Subscription required.)
Bloomberg News, 26 July 2020
Bloomberg News, 1 July 2020