Police issue Covid notices to young people in Belfast's Holyland

Young people in the Holyland area of Belfast earlier this week.

Police have issued seven Covid notices to young people in the Holyland area of south Belfast.

Three prohibition notices were also issued for parties at houses that continued into the early morning.

Footage showing groups of young people congregating and drinking in the area of terraced housing near Queen's University has been circulating online this week.

Belfast is one of the areas subjected to localised lockdowns and local residents have previously expressed alarm that people congregating ahead of the new academic term could cause a spike in infection.

Coronavirus restrictions in Belfast became legally enforceable by police on Wednesday and repeat offenders now face fines of up to £960.

A 20-year-old male who had been previously arrested in the area late on Tuesday evening, was also arrested on Wednesday night on suspicion of breaching bail.

He appeared before court on Thursday morning.

A large number of people are acting responsibly, but there are a few who continue to behave recklessly and are causing disruption for the local community.

PSNI Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick

Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick said: “We continue to dedicate substantial resources to policing this area as we work with our partner agencies and the universities to address this ongoing issue."

Police say they will share the details of students who have failed to follow the Covid regulations with the Universities where appropriate.

Chief Inspector Kirkpatrick added: “Once again, I am warning young people who have moved to the Holyland area and those who are visiting the area, you all share responsibility to adhere to the Health Protection Regulations to protect themselves and others from Covid19.

“The young people congregating or travelling to this area really need to consider their actions for their own health and that of the community.”

Queen's University and Ulster University have said wrongdoers will be subjected to disciplinary processes.

In a statement, Queen’s University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Greer warned that students disregarding public health guidelines faced “substantial penalties”.

He said: “We are required to take a rigorous and stringent approach to the application of disciplinary measures and these include significant fines, suspension from your course and potential expulsion from the university.”

If the university receives notification of a Covid breach from the PSNI, students will be suspended with immediate effect for 14 days. For students in professional subjects such as Medicine and Nursing, it is also important to understand that such breaches may trigger fitness to practice procedures for their future profession.

Professor Ian Greer, Queen’s University Belfast

A spokesperson for Ulster University said: “University enrolment documentation has been extended to make provision for the standards of behaviour expected in the context of Covid-19.

“Every student will need to conduct themselves in a way that does not undermine the safety of others and failure to do so will result in a sanction, up to and including expulsion from Ulster University.

“From beginning of term on 21 September, every student reported for breaching Covid-19 regulations will receive an immediate precautionary suspension.

“For those students, the university will deliver ‘Covid & Good Citizenship Awareness Training’ and a compulsory reflective submission must be provided before that suspension may be lifted."