Students have been urged to “eat in to help out” by Bolton University which is offering £1 dinners delivered to their halls while the town is in lockdown.
The scheme, which will run while restaurants are closed as part of the local lockdown measures, is aimed at helping students abide by the rules.
It comes amid rising concern among ministers that droves of students returning to university will ignore rules on large gatherings.
Bolton’s vice-Chancellor Prof George Holmes said that the £1 dinner scheme will “keep students away from the local population”.
He told The Telegraph: “This is ‘eat in to help out’, it means students can sit down together for dinner. The menus will be selected to be Covid-friendly and we are conscious of making sure they are healthy.”
Meals will generally be prepared by the university’s on site caterers, although students can also get a Fish and Chips take-out from a local eatery also for £1 with the rest subsidised by the university.
It is just one of the measures the university is taking to encourage students to be Covid compliant on campus.
“We have bought 1000 bicycles to give to students to commute on so they don’t need to do car shares or take public transport,” Prof Holmes said. “Students will have to wear masks in the classroom and lecturers will be behind a screen.”
Tighter restrictions have been introduced in Bolton following a spike in coronavirus cases. A sudden increase in Covid-19 cases in Bolton this week has seen the local infection rate jump to nearly 200 per 100,000.
All hospitality venues in Bolton have been restricted to takeaway service only, meaning the closures of pubs and restaurants - bringing the town back in line with the national restrictions prior to July 4.
There is also a curfew for venues which are required to close between 10pm and 5am, while visits to care homes should only be made in “exceptional circumstances”.
People are banned from visiting friends in their homes or socialising indoors with anyone from outside their household.
Universities across the north-east of England will also be welcoming students back during a local lockdown.
Newcastle and Northumbria universities said they will fund extra police patrols to take place in areas with a high concentration of student houses.
It is hoped that a police presence on the streets at night will deter students from holding parties - as well as be on hand to swiftly shut down any large gatherings they get wind of.
Students at Newcastle will be given a “care package” on arrival which will include a face mask, thermometer, hand sanitiser and cleaning equipment.
Earlier this month the Government’s scientific advisors warned that major coronavirus outbreaks at universities are “highly likely” particularly at parties and in halls of residence.
There is a “critical risk” that students will fuel a national surge of Covid-19 cases when they return home at the end of term, according to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.
This week alone, police were called in to break up gatherings outside blocks of flats at Oxford Brookes University as well as a “massive” Nottingham student house party where a £10,000 was given to the 19-year-old organiser.