Students were left furious and ‘freaked out’ after they say they were forced to stay in their halls of residence.
Manchester Metropolitan University bosses told freshers the lockdown was ‘necessary’ to stop coronavirus spreading in the community – with ‘police’ and ‘security’ apparently tasked to prevent them from breaking the rules.
The university’s Birley Naylor Campus as well as Cambridge Hall have been locked down for two weeks after 127 cases across both sites.
But students have slammed the handling of the crisis, claiming they were not warned about the stringent measures and had no opportunity to buy food.
Some say they were told they could be kicked off their courses or lose their accommodation if they failed to comply.
But despite the warnings some frustrated freshers were pictured socialising freely inside the locked down accommodation.
And others have hit out by sticking posters to their windows including one sign branding the halls ‘HMP MMU’ – referring to Her Majesty’s Prison Service. Others made signs saying ‘Tories out’ and ‘F**k Boris’.
Some claimed they were greeted by ‘security’ and ‘police’ as they tried to leave the accommodation.
Megan Tingey, 19, a fresher at Birley halls, tested positive for coronavirus three weeks ago.
She and her flatmates planned a night out at the pub to celebrate the end of their isolation, but were denied access to leave the building.
Megan said: ‘We saw there was security on the gates telling people they couldn’t go in or out.
‘We spoke to them and they said the email letting us know had been delayed.
‘I still haven’t received an email saying anything about being locked in. I think most of my flatmates have received an email but it didn’t come before so we could prepare.
‘This definitely could have been handled better by the university. Walking out of the flat and seeing security is quite a stressful situation’.
Fellow fresher, Dominic Waddell, criticised the university for giving out ‘mixed messages’, leaving students feeling ‘angry, confused and frustrated’.
‘There was a big freak out with everyone and there was a security guard that arrived at the gate and wouldn’t let anyone leave.
‘Some people had been told if they tried to leave they would be kicked off their course and lose their accommodation.
‘Other people were saying that it was going to be a permanent lockdown – we didn’t get anything from the university.
‘There are nearly 2,000 students in this lockdown and if everyone is trying to get a delivery slot I don’t know how that is going to happen,’ he said.
It comes as Manchester recorded the highest number of new infections in a single day – 176 – on Wednesday.
In the last seven days, the borough has recorded 1,051 new cases of coronavirus, an increase of 440 week-on-week.
In an update to students, the university said: ‘As you know, this was a decision taken in conjunction with Public Health England and Manchester City Council, and was taken on the basis of the latest data.
‘With more than 100 students testing positive for Covid-19 in the halls, the decision was deemed necessary to prevent the spread of the virus to other students, staff or the local community.’
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