Cambridge Arcade in Southport

Dozens of people have signed a petition against plans to site a coronavirus testing centre inside a Southport shopping arcade

Sefton Council wants to be able to offer wal-through tests to people from its One Stop Shop inside Cambridge Arcade.

It is due to open on Wednesday next week (August 5) and would be by appointment only.

A petition against the plans has now been set up by Richard Cottier, who said: “Today it was announced that a Covid-19 testing centre would open without consultation in the middle of Cambridge Arcade in Southport.

“The Arcade is a thriving glass roofed Victorian arcade at the epi-centre of Southport Town centre.

“We believe the testing centre should be stopped from opening due to the following:

“Lack of consultation with surrounding businesses.

“Health and safety – it makes no good sense to invite members of the public with Covid-19 like symptoms to the centre of a busy town.

“Economic effect on surrounding business due to the perception of risk from the centre.

“Lack of risk assessment taking into consideration reduced footpath from food and drink establishments within the arcade. These are vital for their economic success during these times.

“Although we understand the important work the testing sites do, a more suitable site should be found.”

Julian Burgess, who owns Tap and Bottles inside the arcade, is also concerned. 

He said: “The shops and bars are all concerned that the One Stop Shop is being turned into a Covid testing centre.

“Should a testing centre be in an enclosed arcade in the town centre? The people being tested could come in for their last chance beer or meal. 

“People could either consciously or subconsciously avoid the arcade and our businesses. 

“The arcade is actually a no-smoking zone so if you can’t smoke in that area for the protection of others is it wise to let potential Covid carriers down there?”

A spokesperson for Sefton Council said: “We understand the concerns of local businesses regarding the provision of a local test centre at the One Stop Shop in Southport.

“Local testing centres are part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to improve accessibility of coronavirus testing for communities.

“The provision of sites is approved by the Department of Health and Social Care and their private sector providers are the decision-makers on the suitability of final location and set-up (including entrances and exits) following a site visit. The site will then be run by a private sector operator.

“The site will be prepared on Tuesday (4th August) and open on Wednesday (5th August) with more appointments available each day. Testing is available for everyone, with additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.

“It is important that the site is easily accessible without a car. Those being tested will be required to follow public health measures, including social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, practising good personal hygiene and wearing a face covering throughout (including travelling to and from the testing centre). Anyone attending an appointment at a walk-through testing will be provided with guidance on getting to and from the test site safely.

“We would assure neighbouring businesses that attendance at the test site is by appointment only and therefore there should be no queuing within Cambridge Arcade.

“Queue management is part of the site operators’ responsibility and whilst the appointment system should ensure there is no queue, we will monitor this.”

You can find the petition Stop the opening of the COVID-19 testing centre in Cambridge Arcade, Southport on the website here.

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