Closure of coronavirus testing centre in St Helens has been delayed
A coronavirus testing site in St Helens has been given a temporary reprieve from closure.
The regional testing centre at Haydock Park Racecourse was due to close on Monday, June 21.
But it is has now been announced the site will remain open until Monday, July 12 due to the rising number of coronavirus cases, particularly the Delta variant from India.
The decision was made during discussions between St Helens Council, Department for Health and Social Care and Haydock Park Racecourse.
Coun Anthony Burns, cabinet member for well-being, culture and heritage at St Helens Council, said: “Although the decision had initially been made to close the site down, after discussions with Department of Health and Social Care and Haydock Park Racecourse it has now been agreed to keep the site open for a further three weeks after which its operation will be further reviewed.
“It is vital that we have capacity to be able to provide testing facilities as we face increasing cases and it will support our other testing facilities at Fairclough Street car park in Earlestown along with our mobile testing unit provision we have across the borough.
“We will continue to assess the demand for testing in our borough and make sure that there will be enough capacity so that residents who have symptoms, which include a high temperature or a new, continuous cough or a loss of sense of taste or smell, or are asked to take a PCR test if they are a contact of someone who has tested positive.”
A member of staff at the testing centre told the Reporter they were given two weeks’ notice of the site being shut.
They said: “I would like to point out that the Haydock Park test site won the award for best site in the country a few months ago and also became a regional test site.
“I understand that the racecourse wants its land back to hold events, but given the current situation with Covid-19 numbers rising with the Delta variant I am at a loss to discover that no other land is available to move the current set-up in the local vicinity.
“Also, thousands of pounds have recently been spent on improving the current site in readiness for the third outbreak. Plans were in place to install laboratories alongside the mobile test units to gather the results and information quicker. Obviously, as the site is now closing, none of these facilities will be available in the local area.
“Lastly, I want to mention my colleagues who have worked relentlessly in their local community throughout this pandemic, all being made redundant with two weeks’ notice.”
The Reporter contacted the Department for Health and Social Care about the plans for the centre but did not receive a response.
Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus can book a test at Haydock Park Racecourse by visiting www.gov.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
Rapid lateral flow tests, for those without symptoms, can be collected between 2.30pm and 8pm on weekdays.