In an urgent message sent just before 5pm this afternoon, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Sally Mapstone asked students at the University of St Andrews to observe a voluntary lockdown for the entirety of the weekend, effective almost immediately from 7pm today. The contents of her email follow:

Dear Students

This is an urgent and important message. Please give it attention and priority.

It is now very clear that rates of Covid infection are surging again in various parts of this country, and it is very likely that we are very close to a form of further national lockdown.

The First Minister of Scotland has today spoken of the urgent need to interrupt the chain of transmission of the virus.

In these circumstances, I am writing to all of our students to ask you to please observe a voluntary lockdown this weekend, effective from 7 pm this evening.

This means that I am asking you all to remain in your rooms as much as possible, not to party, not to go to bars or restaurants, and to avoid mixing with any groups outside your own households. Catering will continue as normal in halls of residence.

I appreciate that this request may appear to some of you to be premature, but a hallmark of this pandemic has been that, as a society, we have acted too slowly in the past, and thousands of people have died unnecessarily as a result.

Early action saves lives, and we have an opportunity as one community to take action to protect ourselves, and those with whom we share this town.

We acted swiftly in March when the pandemic first hit Fife, and the situation we face now is just as serious.

In addition to my request to you to observe these voluntary restrictions, we have also decided that all events planned for this weekend should be postponed. This will affect all planned sports activity, society activity and events at the Byre Theatre, Main Library and Chapel.

I must stress that this is pre-emptive and proactive action. There is no evidence that the virus is surging in our community. Rather it is because as a country we are now in a very fast-moving phase where early intervention is key, and hours make a difference.

We will be keeping this situation under close review all weekend, and I will keep you informed of any further measures that may be necessary. We expect further information and intervention from Government over or just after the weekend.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding. I know I am asking a great deal of you, but I also know that you will respond positively. The sooner we break the transmission of the virus nationally and locally, the sooner we can all return to a traditional university experience.

Sally Mapstone

Principal and Vice-Chancellor