Students arrive at college in hazmat suits

From students arriving at college in hazmat suits… to the Covid ‘Stasi’ checking they’re following rules on nights out – the eerie face of university life in 2020

  • One pair of students laboured in full protective gear yesterday as they unloaded bags from car at start of term at University of Bristol
  • Over 300 students there are in self-isolation after 40 freshers tested positive in student accommodation
  • Almost 260 students at the university have tested positive for virus in new term
  • In North East, methods of black-clad Covid marshals questioned after it was claimed they took students’ details in street and followed them home at night

They would usually turn up to start university clutching their teddy bear, favourite pillow and duvet – but in a bizarre illustration of Covid-era Britain, students arrived at college yesterday clad head-to-toe in hazmat suits.

Elsewhere, ‘heavy-handed’ security guards have been accused of letting themselves into students’ homes to check partying teenagers are following Covid rules in tactics that echo those of the Stasi – the feared former East German secret police.

What should have been a exciting new chapter for youngsters across the country instead descended into claims of ‘conflict and confusion’. 

In a bizarre illustration of Covid-era Britain, students arrived at their student accommodation at the University of Bristol yesterday clad head-to-toe in hazmat suits

 More than 300 students at the University of Bristol are in self-isolation after 40 freshers tested positive in student accommodation

One pair of students laboured in full protective gear yesterday as they unloaded bags from a car at the start of term at the University of Bristol.

More than 300 students there are in self-isolation after 40 freshers tested positive in their student accommodation. 

Almost 260 students at the university have tested positive for the virus since the new term began. 

In the North East, the methods of black-clad Covid marshals are being questioned after it was claimed they took students’ details in the street and followed them home at night.

Silkie Carlo, director of the campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘These sinister and heavy-handed Covid patrols will only create conflict, fear and confusion. 

‘They have no legal powers at all, so it’s quite alarming to think they can waltz into young girls’ rooms or interrogate teenagers.’ 

In the North East (above, Jesmond, Newcastle), security guards have been accused of letting themselves into students’ homes to check partying teenagers are following Covid rules

In Newcastle (above), the methods of black-clad Covid marshals are being questioned after it was claimed they took students’ details in the street and followed them home

Newcastle University has 1,600 Covid cases, while there are 619 at neighbouring Northumbria University. Private guards hired by Newcastle City Council have been patrolling to ensure students do not mix with other households after the 10pm pub curfew.

A fresher said: ‘We all think it’s heavy-handed, but nobody dare say anything because we are frightened we will get into trouble with the university.’ 

Another said: ‘I feel uneasy about handing over my personal information to a stranger and even more uneasy about letting them into my house, which I share with four other girls.’ 

Newcastle vice-chancellor professor Chris Day called for reassurance the patrols are not ‘lone wolves… doing what they like’. One parent revealed a marshal let himself into his daughter’s dorm, describing it as ‘unacceptable and possibly unlawful’.

The city council said yesterday that licensed security staff with bodycams were patrolling alongside police to ‘ensure compliance with Covid rules’.

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