Fears are growing that St Patrick's Day celebrations will rage through Belfast's student area after "alarming" reports of multiple house parties on Monday night.
Residents in the Holyland area said young people have been gathering "from far and wide" for drunken festivities, and blatantly disregarding current lockdown restrictions.
And there are grave concerns the situation will ramp up significantly as March 17 approaches.
Brid Ruddy, chair of Holyland Residents Network, told the Belfast Telegraph that Monday night was "absolutely terrible".
"There were around 15 house parties, starting during the day because the weather was so good - that always happens," she said.
"People seem to think the student parties have stopped since the latest lockdown began after Christmas, but nothing could be further from the truth. People are coming into the area every night, specifically to party.
"Come to the Holyland and you'll see discarded cans and broken bottles all over the place.
"The rest of the residents are adhering to lockdown, so it's galling for us to watch this going on."
Police confirmed that they responded to Holyland parties on Monday, issuing 12 Covid notices and arresting one man.
Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw said the situation was alarming in the run up to what is traditionally the biggest student celebration in the calendar year.
"With just three weeks to go to St Patrick's Day, I fear the worst if measures aren't put in place at this stage," she said.
"There needs to be a steel wall across all agencies operating in the Holyland so that the area can remain safe. This is happening every night of the week, not just at weekends."
She called for action ahead of St Patrick's Day to avoid trouble and potential disturbances.
"We're moving toward a time of the year when there have been problems in the past," she said, adding that "it's very frustrating that a small number of young people think they can party".
Ms Bradshaw said that, with bars and clubs closed, there has been a surge in house parties.
"It's not just at the weekend; this is happening every night of the week," she said.
"Residents in the area are feeling deflated and abandoned with the ongoing anti-social behaviour and low-level deliberate criminal acts."
She added: "There will always be an increased risk of community transmission of the virus until the issue of our very mobile student population is dealt with."
Police said they responded to reports of three house parties in the Carmel Street, Fitzroy Avenue and Agincourt Avenue areas on Monday, issuing 10 Covid 4 and two Covid 2 notices, alongside two additional community resolution notices. A 20-year-old man was also arrested for disorderly behaviour.
Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick said it is "disappointing and frustrating" for the PSNI and the local community that police "are having to respond to small groups of young people who believe the health regulations do not apply to them".
"As people across the country make sacrifices whether isolating, working from home or having temporarily closed their businesses to try and prevent the spread of Covid 19, those who are visiting or staying in this residential area must take responsibility for their behaviour," he said.
"We will continue to patrol the area and will liaise with the universities, colleges and other partners to address any issues.
"Where appropriate, the universities and colleges will consider their own sanctions against any students involved. Police will robustly challenge and deal with people who are either disregarding the health regulations, or engaging in anti-social or criminal behaviour."
A Belfast City Council spokesperson said its representatives are working in the area.
"Our Safer Neighbourhood and Alcohol Enforcement Officers are actively responding to requests for service in the Holyland area of Belfast," said the spokesperson. "Our Night Time Noise Team is also operating a full service and is available seven days a week, 8pm-4am.
"We continue to engage with other statutory and community partners daily to manage the area and to identify long term solutions to this problem."
A Queen's University spokesperson warned students that breaches of Covid-19 regulations would result in automatic suspension. A strict off-campus disciplinary code is in place and if any Queen's student is found to have brought the university into disrepute, they will be subject to the full rigours of this code," said the spokesperson.
"The university also has stringent disciplinary measures in place for students who breach the Covid-19 public health guidelines, resulting in automatic suspension for 14 days."
QUB also said it works in close partnership with the Students' Union, Ulster University, the PSNI and Belfast City Council.
It added: "Members of the university's commsunity engagement team will be on the ground with council staff in the Holyland area responding to complaints of anti-social behaviour in the lead up to and after St Patrick's Day. This will begin over the coming days."