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Coronavirus UK: Students in Manchester rip down huge fences outside university halls

Students have ripped down a metal fence erected around their halls on the first day of England’s new coronavirus lockdown.

Crowds of undergraduates at Manchester University trampled on the barrier and set off flairs in the Fallowfield area of the city.

Pictures earlier today showed tradesmen putting up the huge blockade for the four-week shutdown.

Scores of undergraduates claimed the fencing would have had a ‘devastating’ impact on their mental health.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell tonight apologised for the ‘concern and distress’ and said it was meant to protect students from non-university visitors. 

Universities have come under fire in recent weeks for clamping down on students in their halls of residence amid fears of rising cases of coronavirus.

Students in Bristol organised rent strikes and called for reductions in rent, while Edinburgh University fined undergraduates who escaped their halls.

As England was plunged into shutdown:

  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended furlough to the end of March, in a sign that the Government could be planning to prolong the month-long lockdown;
  • The Bank of England pumped another £150billion into the UK economy and kept interest rates at 0.1 pc amid forecasts GDP will contract 11 pc this year; 
  • The UK’s statistics watchdog blasted No10 for a lack of transparency over the Covid-19 data used to justify the shutdown on Saturday;
  • Police chiefs hardened threats to punish lockdown rule-breakers as a gym owner in Essex was arrested and party organisers were handed £10,000 fines;
  • Justice Secretary Robert Buckland blamed the British public for the second shutdown as he claimed their failure to abide by rules led to ‘second wave’;
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that shutdown rules could be flouted to break UK law overseas through assisted dying. 

Crowds of undergraduates at Manchester University trampled on the barrier and set off flairs in the Fallowfield area of the city

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell apologised for the 'concern and distress' and said it was meant to protect students from non-university visitors

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell apologised for the ‘concern and distress’ and said it was meant to protect students from non-university visitors

Students in Manchester today raged about being 'penned in' after metal fences were ominously erected around their halls on the first day of England's new shutdown

Students in Manchester today raged about being ‘penned in’ after metal fences were ominously erected around their halls on the first day of England’s new shutdown

Undergraduates posted images and videos on social media which show tradespeople putting massive fences around the halls of residence

Undergraduates posted images and videos on social media which show tradespeople putting massive fences around the halls of residence

A spokesperson for the University of Manchester said that Fallowfield halls of residence will be ring-fenced for the duration of the four-week lockdown

A spokesperson for the University of Manchester said that Fallowfield halls of residence will be ring-fenced for the duration of the four-week lockdown

Students in Manchester today raged about being 'penned in' after metal fences were ominously erected around their halls on the first day of England's new shutdown

Students in Manchester today raged about being ‘penned in’ after metal fences were ominously erected around their halls on the first day of England’s new shutdown

Scores of undergraduates claimed that the fencing would have a 'devastating' impact on their mental health during the month-long lockdown

Scores of undergraduates claimed that the fencing would have a ‘devastating’ impact on their mental health during the month-long lockdown

One student, who asked to remain unnamed, told MailOnline: ‘The consensus amongst the student population that this is incredibly dehumanising.’

Another said the university had relayed ‘absolutely no information’ about the fencing and that they only told students at 3pm today.

In an ominous development, they added that students are being told to carry ID as ‘ID checks will be randomly carried out’. 

One Twitter account said: ‘Have we not had enough tragedies at our uni over mental health?! The impact this is going to have will be devastating’. 

Another posted: ‘After absolutely no communication from the university we’re being fenced in by the University of Manchester. 

‘After asking the workers we were told it won’t be the whole way round but we have heard nothing from the uni and they’ve offered no support.’

A social media user said: ‘Imagine our uni is fencing us in for lockdown after there have been several major issues with student’s mental health – lockdown was already going to be tough for most and this is going to make it 10x worse’.

‘Think I’m speaking for everyone when I say there was absolutely no email received on any email accounts I have registered with the uni,’ a student wrote.

‘The levels of anxiety this can cause in an already tenuous time is ridiculous, complete disregard for student welfare’.

Universities have come under fire in recent weeks for clamping down on students in their halls of residence amid fears of rising cases of coronavirus

Universities have come under fire in recent weeks for clamping down on students in their halls of residence amid fears of rising cases of coronavirus

A spokesperson for the University of Manchester said that Fallowfield halls of residence will be ring-fenced for the duration of the four-week lockdown

A spokesperson for the University of Manchester said that Fallowfield halls of residence will be ring-fenced for the duration of the four-week lockdown

Undergraduates posted images and videos on social media which show tradespeople putting massive fences around the halls of residence

Undergraduates posted images and videos on social media which show tradespeople putting massive fences around the halls of residence

Scores of undergraduates claimed that the fencing would have a 'devastating' impact on their mental health during the month-long lockdown

Scores of undergraduates claimed that the fencing would have a ‘devastating’ impact on their mental health during the month-long lockdown

One Twitter user complained: ‘Absolutely vile to fence in students considering someone has already passed away from suicide on the fallowfield campus, with NO prior warning, despite you claiming an email has been sent, causing mass panic.’

‘Feeling like a prisoner rn and couldn’t feel better!’ one said. ‘Thank you so much this is so good for everyone’s mental health’.

Another student said: ‘Woke up this morning to find that the uni is LOCKING us in our buildings by putting up fences without any communication. 

‘As if lockdown wasn’t going to be hard enough and like our mental health wasn’t already f****d they go and do this’.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell said: ‘I sincerely apologise for the concern and distress caused by the erecting of a fence around our Fallowfield Halls of Residence today. This was not our intention – in fact quite the reverse.

‘The fencing was intended as a response to a number of concerns received over recent weeks from staff and students on this site about safety and security; particularly about access by people who are not residents. There was never any intent to prevent students from entering or exiting the site.

‘The fences are being taken down from Friday morning and students are being contacted immediately. Alternative security measures, including additional security patrols are being put in place.

‘I apologise once again for the issues caused by this incident.’

A spokesman for Manchester University earlier said: ‘In response to the national four-week lockdown we are introducing new security measures at key entrance points to our campus, accommodation and main pedestrian routes to help keep our students, our staff and our community safe.

‘A security presence will be increased in these areas and fencing displaying important Covid-19 health messages will be installed.

‘This fencing is designed to help highlight main entrance areas, where security staff will ensure that only students who live in that accommodation can access safely and help avoid the mixing of households.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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