‘Uncomfortable going back to uni’ and ‘confusing’: Students react as Rule of Six law comes into force

Students soon to arrive in Nottingham have mixed feelings about the new ‘Rule of Six’ implemented yesterday (September 14).

The new law puts a limit on groups of more than six people gathering indoors and outdoors across England.

Under the new rules people can be fined £100 for flouting the law, increasing to £3,200 for repeat offenders.

There are a handful of exemptions to the rule, which was introduced to simplify police enforcement, including workplaces and education.

As thousands prepare to return to Nottingham, students’ attitudes are torn on the new ‘Rule of Six’.

Read more Nottingham news stories here.

Kieran Burt, 20, a second-year Politics and International Relations student, said he is concerned about returning to campus.

“I’m very fearful,” he said. “Students seem to have a false sense of security about the low death rate, and they also forget people have conditions that might make COVID more dangerous to them.

“The new rule of six has made me less comfortable about going into uni with more than six.”

We asked what he thinks is needed for students to listen to the new ‘Rule of Six’, Kieran added: “Honestly? I’m sad to say it but I think someone that they know needs to have a bad experience with COVID.

“They need to realise this is serious and needs to be restricted.”

Katie Green, a second-year journalism student, believes freshers will be the group which will be affected the most.

She said: “I think for freshers it might be a bit harder because they want to experience uni life and are trying to make new friends.

“For second and third year students they won’t be as badly affected because they’ll most likely be in different accomodation and will do stuff with the people they live with.”

Katie, who will live in a house of four this year, said that the new rules have a clear benefit but could have done with being “a bit clearer”.

She said: “I think in one way it is good because it reduces bigger groups going out together and makes social distancing less awkward.

“In some places, though, it doesn’t make sense. For example, you can mix with people in schools, but you can’t see your family if there are more than six of you.

“It’s things like that I believe the Government are being confusing on.”

The new law comes as the latest step of Government intervention as fears of a second wave in coronavirus cases mount.

As the news of the ‘Rule of Six’ law was introduced on Friday (September 9), chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, explained some of the causes of the recent increase in cases.

He said: “This is clear indication that if you act rapidly and decisively, there is a good chance of bringing rates back down under control.”

From an average of 12.5 cases per 100,000 in the UK just over a week ago, infection rates had risen to 54.5 among those aged 19 to 21 – the rate was 48 per 100,000 among 17 and 18-year-olds.

Cases among those aged 17 and 21-year-olds are on the rise
Credit: UK Government

On Saturday, Nottinghamshire Police confirmed a 19-year-old University of Nottingham (UoN) student had been fined for organising a party with around 50 attendees.

The UoN politics student was dealt with the “full force of the law” as he received a £10,000 fine for holding a party on Friday night.

But later that evening, partygoers flooded bars and restaurants in Nottingham, Manchester and Leeds.

The events of the weekend led to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland admitting “young people forget the rules”, while, according to the Daily Mail, Boris Johnson is considering a 10 or 11 pm curfew.

Nottingham Trent University, meanwhile, have stated they could have student rule-breakers “removed from their accommodation, suspended from their course, and/or with a criminal record”.

One student, who did not want to be named, believes the threat of punishment will not be necessary with the “majority” of students likely to abide by the ‘Rule of Six’.

“I think students will follow the rules,” he said. “We’ve followed them throughout the pandemic and I’m sure we’ll continue to do so.

“The majority of students will abide but, of course, you’ll get some who will try to bend them.

“But I think it will be difficult for people to break it because if the wider community see or hear what’s happening, they could end up calling the police.”

Public Health data showed an increase of 2,621 cases in the last 24 hours across the UK, rising to 371,125.

It means that there have been 21,025 cases across the past seven days, an increase on the 14,227 positive tests recorded the week prior.

By Matt Lee

Lead Image: Olimpia Zagnat

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