Covid outbreak at Sandhurst after officer cadets 'break socialising rules'

3 February 2021, 11:02

Recruits at Sandhurst have been told they face severe punishment if they break Covid rules (file image)
Recruits at Sandhurst have been told they face severe punishment if they break Covid rules (file image). Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

Nearly 50 positive Covid cases have been recorded amongst officer cadets at Sandhurst, with commanders reportedly left "furious" after social distancing rules were broken.

Recruits are reported to have breached the Covid measures in place at the prestigious military academy in Berkshire, socialising and eating with those from different “work bubbles”.

Commanders have been left furious, according to the Daily Mail, telling the 750 cadets they face severe punishment if they break the new rules.

A spokesman from the military academy said "decisive action" has been taken curtail the outbreak. Cadets have reportedly been banned from using gym facilities, taking unsupervised exercise, smoking breaks, visits at the academy gates and drinking alcohol.

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Sandhurst, established in 1812, is renowned for its standard of military training, with former cadets including princes William and Harry. However, it is the second time the college has come under the spotlight for a lack of Covid compliance.

In November, an investigation was launched after trainees reportedly went on a “drunken spree”, socialising outside their bubbles, “throwing drinks and activating military glow-sticks”.

At the time, an Army spokesperson told the Mail: “Those who fall short of the Army's high standards can expect to face sanctions.”

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The Duke of Cambridge attended Sandhurst and in 2018 returned to review The Sovereign's Parade.
The Duke of Cambridge attended Sandhurst and in 2018 returned to review The Sovereign's Parade. Picture: PA

This week’s Covid outbreak has also led to the cancellation of key military exercises, with the risk that some officer cadets could fail to complete their training if the outbreak is not brought under control.

Brigadier James Carr-Smith, Commander Sandhurst Group, said: “We have taken decisive action to put in place additional measures following an increase in positive COVID-19 tests and isolations at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

“By acting swiftly, we expect these measures will stop the spread of the virus and safeguard critical training.

“We take the health and wellbeing of our personnel very seriously and have lateral flow testing, robust social distancing and hygiene measures in place to protect personnel and prevent further infections.”

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Lieutenant Colonel James Lane, commander of Sandhurst’s New College, reportedly told cadets: "Due to a failure of adherence to FHPI (forces health protection instructions) and with numerous platoons affected by the current mass outbreak within the academy, the below orders are to be enacted to protect officer cadets, staff, families and contractors and are designed to break the current cycle of spread.

"Action will be taken against any staff or cadets who do not adhere to these measures. The standard punishment for an officer cadet who transgresses is to be three work parades and for a member of staff three additional duties.

"Those in isolation must not enter the dining room. This must be made clear to all to ensure everyone understands the potential catastrophic consequences of this irresponsible action.”