UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new wave of coronavirus measures aimed at tackling a rising number of infections in England.
The new rules will see people in England placed under certain restrictions, but do not constitute a full lockdown like we saw earlier this year.
Shops will remain open, but pubs and restaurants will be made to close at 10pm from Thursday onwards.
Education and work remain exemptions for the ‘rule of six’, meaning that you can’t meet more than five others outside of uni teaching, but you may have lectures and seminars that include more than six people.
If you do break the rules, fines for first-time offences are now as high as £200.
No changes were announced regarding flights and international travel, so international students are still able to come to the UK provided that they quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
However, Johnson did reverse the message for office workers, now encouraging them to work from home where possible, rather than try to return to offices. This may result in changes for some university staff, who could be asked to work from home rather than the office this year.
Johnson said the new regulations could last for six months, as winter approaches and cases are expected to continue to rise.
The announcement may also affect some freshers’ week events held in pubs, bars, and restaurants. However, most freshers’ events have been created with social distancing in mind, and so are primarily virtual or outdoor.
The key message for students is that they must choose where to be – home or university – but they cannot travel between both during term-time, as this risks spreading the virus further.
With many universities having already started the new academic year, or planning to start in the coming weeks, bosses are trying new measures to ensure that students follow the rules, such as introducing COVID marshalls and fines.
Some universities have also threatened students with curfews in halls of residence if they fail to comply with regulations.
However, Johnson’s announcement does not affect universities’ ability to hold in-person classes and welcome students back this September.