Dunedin students still keen to go to the cancelled Hyde St Party despite warnings on mass gatherings amid coronavirus fears have created event pages claiming "they can't stop us all".

In a statement, Otago University Student's Association (OUSA) said it had made the decision to cancel this year's event due to a directive announced by the Ministry of Health about mass gatherings.

However, several Facebook event pages, some of which have been deleted, are being made asking students to "storm Hyde St" as "they can't stop us all".

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"It may not be official, but they can't stop us from partying anyway," one event description reads.

OUSA chief executive officer Debbie Downs told the Herald she hopes students grasp the seriousness of what is happening worldwide and the implications that their actions have on the wider community.

"We will be meeting with residents of Hyde Street to discuss the cancellation, what it means to them and how to move forward," she said.

A previous Hyde St party in full flight. Photo / Stephen Jaquiery
A previous Hyde St party in full flight. Photo / Stephen Jaquiery

Downs added that OUSA is working closely with city safety teams, including the police, as they usually do when it comes to planning and cancelling their events.

"The decision to cancel, while prompted by the mandate from the Government, was discussed with all safety teams as well as the implications that this could have," she said.

OUSA is also working closely with Otago University and keeping an open discourse with students and residents, she said.

Police told the Herald that they are aware of this social media activity and will monitor and respond to any events as required.

It comes following hundreds of green-costumed University of Otago students celebrating St Patrick's Day yesterday despite requests to limit large parties in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.


By mid-morning, students were gathered in a park near the North Dunedin cemetery, speakers blaring and drinks in hand, RNZ reports.

Police officers arrived just after 11am. Photo / RNZ
Police officers arrived just after 11am. Photo / RNZ

"I think that we are the reason that it will spread, but we may not be the reason that it gets really bad ... because we don't get really bad symptoms, but we can pass it on to older people and that's where it goes bad," one student said.

While many know how to help limit the spread of coronavirus, they said it wouldn't stop them from partying.

"Wash your hands, guys. Stay at home, don't do what we're doing, wash your hands, look after your grandma and granddad."

Students danced on a car roof while others gathered in groups on the grass.

Police officers arrived just after 11am, monitoring and speaking with party-goers but making no attempts to shut it down.

University head of student health Margaret Perley said it was disappointing to see the size of the North Dunedin party.

"We really need to minimise spread and mass gatherings are not a way to minimise mass spread," she said.

Text messages, emails, posters and social media posts are among the ways the university is trying to keep students informed.

The university is planning to reduce lecture numbers to a maximum of 499 this week.

In a press conference today, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield made note of the St Patrick's Day gathering involving university students.

The Ministry of Health has given Cabinet further advice around mass gatherings - stopping such gatherings is an important part of preventing community transmission, Bloomfield said.

Cabinet would be considering the topic this afternoon and further advice would come out later today or tomorrow.

Bloomfield said the ministry was looking "very carefully" at Australia's plan to stop gatherings of more than 100 people.

- additional reporting by RNZ