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Three major organisations in Portsmouth have told residents what they are doing to slow the spread of coronavirus as university students begin their studies this week.

The Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth and an Inspector at Hampshire Constabulary have written to residents and businesses to outline their plans for ensuring the safety of students and minimising the risk of coronavirus in the community.

Measures include:

  • Delaying the start of university term to Monday 5 October;
  • Staggered arrival for moving into halls of residence over three weeks;
  • A coronavirus testing site managed by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) at the University’s Eldon car park for students, staff and the community showing symptoms;
  • A screening programme for students and staff who are not displaying symptoms;
  • One-way systems, signage, floor markings, hand-sanitising stations, temperature scanning and face masks as compulsory inside University buildings; and
  • Moving all large group teaching online and reducing the number of staff on campus.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: “Residents have understandable concerns that an influx of students may cause a spike in COVID-19 cases, but we want to reassure our community that by working together and taking a joined-up approach to this, we hope to minimise the risk of coronavirus in our city.

“It’s a time of uncertainty and worry for us all but we are committed to working together and doing everything possible to ensure the safety of our whole community.”

Professor Graham Galbraith, Vice-Chancellor at University of Portsmouth, said: “Like everyone else, students are expected to take personal responsibility for their own and others’ safety, and the vast majority do this. The University’s role – as well as that of its partners – is to support students to act responsibly and to take any necessary steps against those who do not. These include University penalties for misconduct ranging from temporary suspension to permanent exclusion.

“The test facility on campus for students and staff who do not have COVID-19 symptoms will enable us to quickly identify whether infection rates are increasing and respond rapidly. We believe that this testing facility will help the city-wide fight against any rising infection rate.”

Marcus Kennedy, Inspector at Hampshire Constabulary, said: “We have greater enforcement powers to break up social gatherings and issue fines, but our approach remains to support students and the public in following the regulations. Officers will continue to engage, explain, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce.”

The letters and emails have been sent to residents and businesses near the Eldon testing centre, those that benefit from student footfall and via councillors and community leaders in highly-populated student areas, and highlight what residents can do if they have any concerns. This includes:

  • Social gatherings or other disturbances should be reported as a breach of COVID regulations on the Hampshire Constabulary website or by calling 101.
  • Student behaviour complaints can be made to the University’s Student and Neighbour Liaison Service which can be contacted on 023 9284 3214 or on student-neighbourliaison@port.ac.uk.
  • Noise disturbances should be reported via the council website or by calling 023 9283 4092.

The testing site at the Eldon car park is run by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in partnership with Sodexo. Portsmouth City Council or the University of Portsmouth are unable to advise on queries related to the operation of the site.

Residents and businesses can access advice and guidance about the impact of coronavirus at www.portsmouth.gov.uk/coronavirus.