Is it fair to ask people to quarantine in 10 sq m of space?
Several political parties, some representing student interests, are saying that there needs to be more clarity around guidelines for living in student houses during the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak.
A student house is not legally seen as a household and, and so people that live in it must keep 1.5 meters away. This also applies if students live together in one house with a shared kitchen, shower and living room. This has caused much confusion amongst young people, say the political parties Student & Starter, STIP, Student and Stad; and Connect. As reported by the GIC.
In Utrecht, the lack of clarity about the measures is creating difficult situations. This week it became clear that police and enforcement officers have issued warnings to residents at the Ina Boudier-Bakery complex (IBB). The police told residents that they are not a household, and would therefore risk a fine were they to routinely come within 1.5 metres of eachother.
There is also a difference between the treatment of people living in massive student complexes, and the rest of the city. Not all student houses are treated in the same way: with smaller student houses often being able to count on more understanding from police and enforcement officers. Smaller groups students of three or four sit at the door or on the pavement in the sun and this is often tolerated.
In Groningen there is uncertainty about the regulations in various student houses. Here, the police told all residents of a dorm that they could be fined 390 euros if they did not keep their distance in their living room. That the rules be interpreted like this is a mystery for councilor Marten Duit of Student and City of Groningen. “If this is maintained, students’ lives will become unlivable”, says Duit.
Connect Wageningen, a political party, has also received a lot of emails and messages from students that need clarity. “For many students, sitting indoors is really hard, often they want it have some distraction in the evening. But when a student house with more than ten residents turns on music and people start dancing around the house, you can see how local residents think that it is a party, making it seem like students are flouting the rules. ” Mark says Reijerman, spokesperson for Connect Wageningen.
As a positive example, the parties mention Delft in the Province of South Holland. The city did have confusion among students, but the municipality has issued a guideline to reduce this confusion. Thus one student house is considered a normal household and this includes its garden, balcony or roof terrace.
Municipalities and central government are urged to make use of ‘common sense’. Students are doing their utmost to follow up on the measures, but a lack of clarity about the measures is making this difficult. The parties STIP Delft, Student & Starter, Student and City; and Connect Wageningen have asked that the government clarify their regulations to all students in the Netherlands.
The parties say that a national guideline for students and those in house shares could provide more clarity and therefore help people better follow the rules. Whilst the purpose of local political parties is to care for the (mental) health of students, they must also consider the health of the other city dwellers, and it is this balance that will be difficult.
Image by Vincent_Zhang via Pixabay
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