Queen’s University Criticised for Charter Flight
Monday, 11 Jan 2021
Concerns have been raised after Queen’s University in Belfast chartered a flight to bring students in from China over the weekend.
Much like the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland has recently entered a strict new lockdown amid rising cases of coronavirus. Members of the public can be fined for breaking stay at home rules.
One source has criticised the university for operating the flight from Beijing on Sunday 10 January, in which an estimated 200-350 students were on board.
According to the source, staff at Queen’s are concerned amidst the rise in cases and concerned for the new students “arriving to go straight into lockdown and then straight into online learning”.
Questions are also raised as to whether the university has been fully honest with the students regarding having to stay inside their accommodation. Finally, the source believes moving people around the world at this stage is “totally irresponsible.”
This is the third direct charter flight the university has operated since the start of the pandemic. In defence of its operation a spokesperson stated, “The University appreciates that international travel can be difficult to arrange at the moment” and calls the flight the easiest way possible to students to travel from the region in time for the new academic year.
All passengers boarding the flight on Sunday had to present proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test and were not allowed to board if displaying any symptoms of infection. Upon arrival in Belfast, Queen’s said they would be “transported directly to campus and required to self-isolate.”
Further, Queen’s assured that a range of safety measures had been implemented to “protect” students, staff and the community whilst also pointing out that the majority of teaching is being delivered online.
All students will also be asked to participate in an asymptomatic testing program upon return to campus.
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