THE University of Oxford has defended its decision to hold an event at a city theatre tonight despite the county being on ‘red alert’ for the coronavirus.

Vice Chancellor Louise Richardson will hold the annual Oration event for invited members of the university’s congregation, at the Sheldonian Theatre.

The congregation is ‘a body of senior university staff’.

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A concerned resident contacted the Oxford Mail saying it was 'an unnecessary face-to-face meeting when Oxford is now at red status'.

However the university has defended the event, saying it will 'follow Government guidelines for venue capacity and social distancing’.

A spokesperson said: “A comprehensive risk assessment has been completed in advance.”

A text of the speech will also be put on the university website after the event.

Read also: Nearly 50 Oxford Brookes students test positive for virus

The university’s annual Matriculation speech, a welcome address for all new incoming students, will also be held online this year.

This speech will be given by the Vice Chancellor as well, however, the address will be filmed in advance from the Sheldonian theatre.

The Matriculation will be screened online around the university on Saturday, October 17.

The news comes after 47 Oxford Brookes University students have tested positive since the beginning of term.