– MP Damien Moore has issued a statement urging Sefton Council to reconsider the placement of the Cambridge Arcade Covid testing centre
– But Council insist the placement of the centre was a government decision
Southport MP Damien Moore has criticised the decision to place a Covid-19 testing centre in Cambridge Arcade.
Storeholders in the arcade raised public safety concerns after it was announced that the Council’s One Stop Shop would begin Covid-19 testing from Wednesday.
Mr Moore said: “I have been contacted today by a number of restaurant and bar owners in the arcade who are horrified at the prospect of people who suspect they have Covid-19 queueing up past families sitting down to enjoy their lunch to get into the One Stop and get tested for the virus.
“These independent local businesses are working very hard to bring back trade after three months of being in lockdown and opening a Covid testing centre right next to them is a baffling decision.
“I fully support the idea of providing opportunities for people in Southport to be tested for Coronavirus but this planned facility needs to be moved elsewhere.”
“The provision of local testing sites is important to tackle the spread of Covid-19 – neither myself nor those businesses I have spoken to would disagree with the spirit in which the sites have been put forward.
“However, whilst 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 the final location and set-up, I am disappointed that this location was put forward in the first instance.
“It is exceedingly clear that this is not an appropriate location to encourage those with symptoms of Covid-19 to attend, even with the social distancing guidelines outlined.
“The publicity of this testing site alone will have a significant and lasting impact on those businesses who have already experienced a difficult few months in trading. Furthermore, the suggestion that a queue would be ‘monitored’ is simply not good enough – this is a closely confined arcade with a number of food venues.
“There are plenty of other sites in Southport that would have been easily accessible and better-suited.
“I would strongly encourage Sefton Council to reconsider the suitability of this site and to relocate it.”
However, the Council say that the decision on location for the test centres is made by Central Government.
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.”