The University of California, Berkeley has ramped up its COVID-19 restrictions, issuing an “urgent sequestering requirement” for students living in campus dorms, asking them to remain confined to their rooms, with few exceptions, and prohibiting exercising alone outdoors.
University authorities said in a notice Monday that students in dorms must remain in their rooms at all times, except to seek medical care, in case of an emergency, to go the bathroom, or to get food.
“After you pick up your food, you are required to return immediately to your room,” the notice cautions, noting that students may only go out to collect food at specific times and from designated food distribution kiosks.
Students may also leave their rooms to get their mandatory, twice-per-week COVID-19 test.
UC Berkeley has been grappling with higher COVID-19 infection numbers. Between Jan. 31 and Feb. 6, 164 students, faculty and staff tested positive for the disease, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard, a 12 percent increase from the prior week.
According to an email to students, as reported by the Daily Californian, measures in place to enforce the dorm lockdown will include campus police officers monitoring dormitory halls and frequent inspections of ID cards.
“We don’t wish for residents to be alarmed by this increased UCPD presence, but we must ensure the health of our community,” the email reads, according to the outlet.
Besides a heavier campus police presence, more university staff will be monitoring dorms to ensure compliance. To raise compliance further, the university encouraged students to report those who don’t follow the rules.
“Reporting what you witness will help protect your fellow students and our community. We are all in this together,” the notice reads.
The solo exercise ban, a brand new measure imposed by Monday’s lockdown order, may soon be lifted, however.
“We are working with the city of Berkeley to determine whether outdoor exercise may be permitted, and we will provide more information on this in the near future,” the notice reads.
Students discouraged by the harsh measures and considering fleeing from campus were advised to stay put.
“We understand that some students may wish to leave campus to temporarily or permanently live elsewhere (e.g., with family members) but we strongly advise against leaving,” the notice said. “You risk bringing COVID home with you and infecting a loved one who may be more likely to become severely ill; even if you have had a negative test recently, you may be incubating the virus.”
The enhanced restrictions are to be in effect at least through Feb. 15.
The announcement comes as California on Tuesday surpassed New York to become the state with the largest COVID-19 death toll.