Botanic Sinn Féin Councillor John Gormley has expressed concern at the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak in the Holyland and wider university area as students return to the area for the new academic year.
The South Belfast Councillor said:
“September has seen the return of thousands of students to the Holyland and wider university area, many of them to live in houses of multiple occupation.
“As part of their university experience they will want to socialise with others and will attend classes where they will mix with different sets of students.
“At weekends, many will return home where they will mix with family and friends.
“This creates the risk of multiple overlapping circles of contact within which Covid-19 could rapidly spread.
“I am encouraging students to follow public health guidelines and to play their part in minimising the spread of the virus. This includes adhering to the guidelines in relation to the number of people allowed to meet within private dwellings.
“Universities must ensure that actions are taken to minimise the spread of the virus on campus, including enforcing the wearing and supply of face-masks where necessary.
“Landlords must too recognise that they have a duty of care for their tenants and actively monitor their houses to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the occupants.
“Hospitality and retail businesses in the wider university area must take responsibility for implementing the public health guidelines.
“The PSNI and Belfast City Council must ensure that everyone involved adheres to the guidelines and must take action to enforce the guidelines where necessary.
“I welcome the fact that the PHA intends to meet regularly with the relevant agencies on this issue and I am calling for a clear, strategic and proactive approach to protect residents and to prevent any outbreak.”