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Police frustration as 55 Belfast Holyland Covid notices issued after house party visits

Some tried to evade police by locking themselves in bathroom

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Residents have voiced concern over large crowds gathering in the Holyland area in breach of Covid regulations

Residents have voiced concern over large crowds gathering in the Holyland area in breach of Covid regulations

Residents have voiced concern over large crowds gathering in the Holyland area in breach of Covid regulations

Police have issued 55 Covid notices and three prohibition notices after calling to seven house parties in the Holyland area of south Belfast.

Officers discovered more than 30 people attending one party in an apartment, where three people tried to hide from police by locking themselves in a bathroom for over 10 minutes.

Those attending the party had home addresses from across Northern Ireland police said.

Police were in attendance once again on Thursday night and into Friday morning. They have said "substantial resources" are being using on policing the area. There has been unrest in the area over the past week with a number of arrests made and notices issued.

Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick said: “It is disappointing and frustrating that some people continue to disregard clear and specific advice, guidance and warnings issued by police, the health minister, universities and others.

“Police will continue to dedicate substantial resources to this area as we work alongside partner agencies, including representatives from Belfast City Council and both universities who will be on the ground to address ongoing issues in the Holyland area.

“Both universities continue to emphasise that in addition to the range of potential penalties police can issue, any students found to be in breach of health guidelines will be subject to stringent disciplinary measures that may include suspension or exclusion.

It comes as Ulster University and Queen's students who breach Covid-19 guidelines were warned by their universities they will face an automatic suspension if they break regulations.

In a statement to students, Queen's president Professor Ian Greer said the "minority" of students who break regulations risk "substantial penalties" for not playing their part in the fight against coroanvirus.

Queen's is "required to take a rigorous and stringent approach to the application of disciplinary measures", he said.

He added: "If the university receives notification of a Covid breach from the police, 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.

"This emphasises the importance of a responsible approach, which is in your best interests, both now and in the future."

Ulster University students face sanctions "up to and including expulsion", the university said in a statement.

An Ulster University spokesperson said: "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."

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 yourselves and others from Covid-19.

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

Belfast Telegraph