04:46 GMT21 October 2020
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    Outbreaks of coronavirus have erupted across the United Kingdom's university campuses as students return to their accommodation halls at the beginning of the new education year.

    Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) has apologised after ordering students to take down posters protesting against a campus lockdown.

    The university clarified in a tweet on Sunday saying that only posters that "break the law" will be removed.

    "We respect the rights of students to express themselves, but as requested by Greater Manchester Police the posters must not break the law or they'll have to be removed".

    ​University students at Manchester Metropolitan were issued the order amid ongoing accommodation lockdowns in an email from Student Living.

    "We are contacting you all today to ask for the signs which are on display on the windows in your flat need to be removed"
    "Please ensure these are removed asap", the email read.

    ​The signs put up reading "Tories out" and "f**k Boris", while others signalled for help. Another one described the situation as "HMP MMU" in reference to Her Majesty’s Prison Service.

    ​Hall inhabitants at Manchester Metropolitan were placed into a lockdown on Friday without warning following 127 students testing positive for coronavirus.

    Around 1,500 students have been told not to leave the accommodation with emergency exceptions, in an attempt to contain a coronavirus outbreak at two residence halls.

    Students on the Birley campus and Cambridge Halls were ordered to self-isolate for 14 days, leaving many unsure how they can get food and essential supplies. 

    The students responded to the abrupt measures by criticising the government and schools officials by sticking protest posters to their windows.

    19-year old Megan Tingey, a fresher at the Birley Naylor halls said she and most of her flatmates tested positive for Covid-19 three weeks ago.

    "We haven’t really received any advice about how to get food in, obviously we hadn’t done a food shop. ‘I presume we can order stuff to the gate and they can leave it there but I’m not sure. They gave us no time to prepare, if they had given us a day we could have gone out and stocked up", she said.

    University officials claim the lockdown is "necessary" to prevent further spread of Covid-19 to other students, staff, as well as the surrounding community.

    "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", the university said in an update to students.

    "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".

    The update said that the university appreciated the students "many concerns about the impact of this isolation period and we are working hard to put plans in place to help you in the coming days".

    The emergency responses to help the students include increased food delivery from local supermarkets.

    Students in universities across the UK have similarly been taking action to protest against university campuses lockdowns. Glasgow University saw self-isolating students place signs saying "students not criminals" and "help us, send beer" after 120 students received positive Covid-19 tests.

    Earlier this week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out preventing students from returning home at Christmas, in order to prevent the virus from spreading further.


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