Scores of students flouted the new Rule of Six restrictions last night as they queued outside a nightclub in Portsmouth and descended onto the streets of the coastal city to enjoy a night of heavy partying.
Young revellers, including Portsmouth University students who had recently arrived to the city in Hampshire to begin their academic year, swapped a night in at home to queue outside The Astoria in Guildhall Walk and hit the numerous pubs and bars.
Crowds of alcohol-fuelled revellers appeared in high spirits as they huddled in large groups without face masks and walked onto the streets into the small hours to celebrate with their friends amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to The Astoria, every group is allocated a table that seats a maximum of six people once inside the club.
Upon entry guests are also asked to sanitise their hands, must stay within their ‘party bubble’ and a thermal imaging system is also in operation.
The scenes come as Portsmouth University warned the thousands of students due to arrive to the city to begin the start of the new academic term on October 5 that they face temporary suspension and even permanent exclusion if they break the new regulations set out by the Government.
A group of party-goers flout social distancing guidelines as they queue outside a nightclub in Guildhall Walk in the coastal city of Portsmouth
A group of revellers huddle in a group without masks as they gather on the streets in Portsmouth amid the coronavirus pandemic
Revellers and students break social distancing guidelines as they gather together in the city without face masks into the small hours
A group of people flout social distancing measures as hundreds of students begin to arrive to the city to begin the academic year
Nightclub promoters from The Astoria walk onto the streets with their flags as party-goers arrive to the coastal city on Tuesday night
It also came just a day after Britons were banned from gathering in groups of more than six under new government guidelines to curb Covid infection rates.
In a statement this week Portsmouth University told The News: ‘Students are expected to take personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of other students, staff and the wider community by adhering to the university’s student contract and code of student behaviour, safety measures put in place, and by following government guidelines.
‘As with other members of our local community, students are advised of a £100 fine if they break the law banning social gatherings of more than six people, and this amount doubles for any subsequent breaches. This applies to halls of residence as well as private accommodation.’
The university added: ‘The vast majority of our students adhere to requirements. However, if they do not, penalties for student misconduct range from temporary suspension to permanent exclusion.’
Earlier this month thousands of students across the UK were warned about spreading coronavirus and warned they face ‘serious police action’ if they hold mass gatherings during Freshers’ Week.
Ministers discouraged young people preparing for university from attending Freshers’ events, with Health Minister Lord Bethell urging freshers and returning university students to resist going to mass social gatherings ‘in pubs, clubs and bedrooms’.
Meanwhile, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan furiously warned large event organisers that police will take ‘serious action’ against them, following reports that some companies have been advertising mass social Freshers’ events.
And Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, pleaded with students to ‘follow the rules’ for ‘the sake of your education and your parents’ and grandparents’ health’.
Revellers walk in a group as the enjoy their Tuesday night out in Portsmouth despite the Rule of Six measures now in place
Young party-goers huddle in a group without face masks as they enjoy a night of heavy partying in Portsmouth on Tuesday
A line of part-goers queue outside Dirty Disco nightclub in Portsmouth just days after the Rule of Six regulations come into force
Crowds of people begin to enter The Astoria in Portsmouth on Tuesday night amid the coronavirus pandemic
Some people stand outside a pub as they swap a night in a home for a night out with their friends in Portsmouth on Tuesday
A man throws flames into the air as revellers begin to queue outside a nightclub and enjoy a night out in the city
It comes as 510,000 young people prepare to start university this autumn amid the coronavirus pandemic.
This month Health Minister Lord Bethell said: ‘We are deeply concerned about the spread among students. Some of that spread will take place in universities, and I pay tribute to the efforts of vice-chancellors to put in place social distancing arrangements in universities; we hope that they will have an impact.
‘However, some of the effect is in their social life – in pubs, clubs and bedrooms up and down the country.
‘That is the responsibility of the students themselves, and we are looking at measures to enhance and enforce the social-distancing measures that will stop the spread of this disease.’
Ms Donelan warned students: ‘As a Government, we have clearly set out the consequences for anyone who risks spreading the virus, whether that’s through illicit social gatherings or organising large events.
‘The police and local authorities will take serious action where it is necessary. Health advice only works if we all follow it. I urge students, just like the wider public, to do their bit and act responsibly to ensure campuses can remain open for them to use and enjoy.’
While Health Secretary Matt Hancock pleaded with university students to ‘follow the rules’, telling MPs: ‘If you are a student who is about to return to university or go to university for the first time then please, for the sake of your education and your parents’ and grandparents’ health, follow the rules and don’t gather in groups of more than six.’
A group of revellers gather outside a bar in Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth without masks amid the coronavirus pandemic
Party-goers walk along the street in Portsmouth just days after the Government’s Rule of Six comes into force in the UK
Part-goers without face coverings gather outside in Portsmouth, Hampshire, on Tuesday as they enjoy a night out
People begin to queue outside a nightclub in Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth without face coverings amid the coronavirus pandemic
At a Downing Street press conference this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘My message to students is simple. Please, for the sake of your education, for your parents’ and your grandparents’ health, wash your hands, cover your face, make space, and don’t socially gather in groups of more than six now and when term starts.
The Universities of Greenwich, Leeds Trinity, Coventry and Queen Mary in London opened their campuses to freshers earlier this month while LSE, Birmingham City, and the Universities of Nottingham and the West of England are expected to hold their Freshers’ Week from September 21.
Leicester de Montfort, the University of Bristol, the University of Durham and University College London will host Freshers’ Week from September 28.
Meanwhile, Cambridge and Oxford, Birkbeck and Essex are among the last to host Freshers’ Week for new students from October 5.
Under the new Rule of Six regulations, which were published just before midnight on Sunday, ‘mingling’ in a large group is banned however larger gatherings are permitted for work, childcare or political protests.
Recreational sports, including five-a-side football, cricket, rugby and park runs, can also continue provided people follow the correct protocol.
Those who breach the guidelines could face fines of £100, rising to a maximum of £3,200 for repeat offenders.