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UL to start high visibility patrols on campus after a spike in Covid-19 cases

UL’s President, Professor Kerstin Mey made the announcement on Twitter this afternoon.

Image: Shutterstock/Hope Phillips

GARDAÍ WILL BE conducting high visibility patrols every evening around the University of Limerick (UL) due to concerns about student gatherings, according to the President of the university.

The move comes after the university began mass testing their students, to manage an outbreak of Covid-19 among the student population earlier this week.

UL’s President, Professor Kerstin Mey made the announcement on Twitter this afternoon, saying that it was being brought in due to the concerns over students mixing and gathering in groups.

“To the small minority of students who still believe there is no harm in continuing to gather – you are endangering yourselves, your friends, your families, your community and your university,” said Professor Mey.

Professor Mey says that UL will be funding the patrols by gardaí.

The patrols are to be carried out over a two-week period and started on 22 February, amounting to around 310 additional policing hours, according to the university. 

Up to six gardaí will be on patrol each night, with the focus areas being estates in the immediate vicinity of the campus, University of Limerick said in a statement. 

According to Professor Mey, on the spot fines will be issued for those who breach the regulations. €100 fine will be issued if a student leaves their home without a reasonable excuse, as well as €150 fines for attending a gathering.

A €500 fine will be issued for anyone who is organising a gathering.

Professor Mey has said that all students are encouraged to register for a free on-campus Covid-19 test and that no symptoms are required to get tested.

“I know it is hard for you to live under almost constant public health restrictions – but COVID-19 does have an impact on young people and can have devastating effects,” said Professor Mey.

According to Dr Ronan Ryder, Director of the Student Health Centre at UL, the service referred fewer than five people two weeks ago, but that Covid-19 referrals suddenly spiked to 50 on Monday.

An on-campus test centre was set up earlier this month, and testing is currently being done by HSE Mid West Community Healthcare. It was originally set up “in a bid to prevent further transmission among the student population,” said the university in a statement.

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In a statement today, UL said: “The goal is that these preventative measures will reduce the potential transmission and protect the residents in the communities in which our students live.”

It said it has sanctioned a number of students since January “who have been officially reported, investigated and found to have broken the UL code of conduct relating to the current Covid-19 environment”. 

University of Limerick said today that at the beginning of the current semester it informed all students not to travel to Limerick if their programmes were being carried out fully online. 

“However, as government has deemed travel for education as essential during Level 5, some students have chosen to travel to live in private rent accommodation off the UL campus, for better study conditions – including connectivity and space,” it said.

The university noted that classes and labs on the UL campus have been reduced to the “absolute minimum required” and that at any one time only 2% of the university’s students have face-to-face scheduled labs or workshops “which are essential for their learning outcomes”. 

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

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