University students in Scotland have been told to avoid going to pubs, bars and restaurants this weekend in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The 19 members of Universities Scotland, which represents higher education in the country, have asked students to refrain from socialising outside their households as stricter regulations come into force.
As in England and Wales, hospitality outlets in Scotland are now required to close at 10pm. However, people in Scotland have been told they cannot meet with others outside their own household in their homes.
Like other parts of the UK, the country is enforcing the rule of six in public indoor spaces, such as pubs and restaurants, where a maximum of six people from two households are allowed to meet.
However additional demands have been placed on university students after a number of institutions have reported a high number of positive cases.
Students have been told not to visit hospitality outlets this weekend in a move which is described as a “necessary step” at a “crucial” moment in order to contain the spread of the virus. Universities have agreed to increase staff numbers at halls of residence to ensure compliance, while extra disciplinary measures including a “strict yellow card/red card approach” will be enforced if a student breaches guidelines and puts others at risk.
“We will not hesitate to escalate this to disciplinary action including potential discontinuation of study,” the statement said. All students are also required to download the Protect Scotland tracing app.
172 students at Glasgow University have tested positive for Covid-19 and a total of 600 people are self-isolating. It is said the number of infected pupils is “likely to be higher”.
Large numbers of students have also been told to self-isolate in halls of residence belonging to the Abertay University in Dundee and the University of Aberdeen.
NHS Lothian has confirmed there have been 125 positive cases among the student population in the city of Edinburgh, with 120 of these connected to an outbreak at Edinburgh Napier University, according to the Herald.
In an email to the student body, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of St Andrews, Sally Mapstone, said that there had now been 12 cases of Covid-19 among the student and staff population since term began in September.
Convener of Universities Scotland, Professor Gerry McCormac, who is also principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Stirling, said universities shared the Scottish government’s commitment to keeping people safe. He said that the majority of students were observing the regulations, but that “a minority have not”.
McCormac said Scottish universities were confident that the measures “will help significantly to control the virus in student accommodation and impact on the number of positive cases; after the inevitable time-lag caused by some existing cases not yet being symptomatic”.
Responding to news of the 10pm curfew for bars and restaurants, which will come into force in Scotland today (25 September), Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), said the sector was “staring into an abyss”.
He added that members of the group estimated that their turnover will drop by more than 25% as a result of the new measures.
“With 90,000 Scottish jobs at risk we are heading towards a cliff edge and time is running out,” he said.