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Sports hall on Lancs campus to be turned into Covid-19 testing site

The newly constructed hall will be used as a testing site for 3 months

Lancaster University is closing its new sports hall facility and it is being turned into a Covid-testing facility.

This comes after a mobile testing unit was on campus from 5th-8th October.

When confirming the news, The Tab Lancaster spoke to a member of the SportLancaster team at the Sports Centre who was unaware of the change, and Lancaster University Security also weren’t told about the news as of 13th October.

Despite this, a SportLancaster source (who wishes to remain anonymous) told us on 10th October that this may be happening. The source said: “If I was a student involved in sports then I’d get everyone together and complain. They’ve just been able to get back to training, and now the state-of-the-art hall is being closed? How hard would it be to set up a marquee on one of the many football fields and use that?”

The news was confirmed by Lancaster University in an online post: “The Government Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) will set up a community Covid-19 testing centre in the Sports Hall, part of the Sports Centre from Friday 16th October.

“The testing centre will run seven days a week, 8am-8pm, and will be in place for a minimum of three months, with the Sports Centre remaining open throughout.

“Local residents, including Lancaster University staff and students who have coronavirus symptoms will be able to receive tests at the new centre.

“For the health and safety of Sports Centre customers, measures will be in place to ensure that visitors to the test centre are directed away from the Sports Centre reception and facilities.

“Visitors to the test centre will be directed to access the Sports Hall using the Sports Hall foyer doors, and park at the rear Bowling Green car park. Parking will be free for test centre customers. Security staff, provided by the DHSC, will direct pedestrians and cars to their dedicated entrance and car park. There will also be signage in place instructing visitors where to go too.”

The new sports hall was due to be completed in Spring 2020, ready for Lancaster University hosting Roses 2020; the pandemic delayed the completion of the hall, and student sports societies have only been able to resume training in the facility in the past two weeks.

The Tab Lancaster can confirm that the Students’ Union’s VP Sport, Paul McCarthy was not consulted with before this decision was made. Speaking to The Tab, McCarthy said: “Under the circumstances I’m completely in support of a testing facility being placed on campus, but I’m disappointed not to have been consulted by the university as part of the decision-making process.

“Socialising and exercising safely is already proving challenging for students and this is another barrier to their physical and mental wellbeing. I’ll be talking with the university to understand more about how long this arrangement will be in place and if alternative options are available.”

Lancaster University’s full announcement can be found here.