The incident, where police were called to disperse gatherings on St Andrews' beaches, followed a meeting between all four St Andrews councillors and University officials which addressed arrangements surrounding the arrival of students and how to ensure the safety of the whole community.
Over the past two weeks, the police have been called to St Andrews’ beaches to disperse gatherings of students. On 9 September 2020, police confirmed that they had to break up a large group of people near West Sands, and were later called to Castle Sands on 7 September 2020.
In addition, on 11 September, officers were called to Castle Sands again. On this occasion, the group was made up of students observing social distancing and it is reported that they left the area when requested.
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland confirmed that no fines were issued or arrests made:
She said, “Officers attended, gave advice and the group dispersed.”
One local resident reported to the Courier that these beach parties include music, bonfires and drinking. Residents have also expressed anxiety over the contribution of these gatherings to furthering the spread of coronavirus.
In response to the events, Callum MacLeod, chairman of St Andrews Community Council, stated his concern, emphasising “If students, or indeed anyone, are not going to take a hint then far more serious action will regrettably have to be taken.”
Dominic Nolan, the Conservative councillor, added that, “These nuisance parties are unacceptable even under normal circumstances, but are particularly irresponsible when we all need to observe physical distancing.”
The incident followed a meeting between all four St Andrews councillors and University officials which addressed arrangements surrounding the arrival of students and how to ensure the safety of the whole community.
Brian Thomson, the Labour councillor, praised the efforts of the University to “keep both students, and residents as safe as possible.” He added that “If a party of the scale reported has taken place on the West Sands, that’s obviously very disappointing, but the University has been absolutely clear that any breaches of Covid-19 guidance, whether on University property or around the town, will be treated as a disciplinary matter.”
A spokesman for the University of St Andrews noted that the University were working “very closely” with Police Scotland, continuing that “the reports we have received indicate the vast majority are observing public health guidelines and behaving responsibly.”
They said, “It is so important that while we remain cautious and prudent, and encourage our students to observe safe behaviour, we empower and support them to show what they can do during these enormously restrictive times.”