Covid-19 vaccinations - Chichester Festival Theatre and Butlin's in Bognor willing to offer their sites

Two major venues in Chichester and Bognor Regis have offered to turn their sites into Covid-19 vaccination centres.

Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 6:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 6:44 pm

Chichester Festival Theatre said it has ‘informally approached’ Chichester District Council about the possibility.

Kathy Bourne, executive director, said: “We are always keen to support our community in any practical way and would be happy to offer our facilities as a vaccination centre while the theatre is closed (probably for the next two or three months).

“We would welcome the opportunity for a formal discussion about the possibility.”

The Sussex COVID-19 Vaccination Programme said it is aware of the feedback and ‘strength of feeling’ about the location of vaccine services in Chichester. Photo: Getty Images

Butlin’s in Bognor Regis has also put itself up to be a Covid-19 vaccination site, its director has said.

Jeremy Pardey said the resort shared the opinion of residents that the site would have been a suitable venue but it wasn’t given the opportunity.

“We were told it was already resolved,” Mr Pardey said.

“It’s a good site. but the people who know best are the medics and NHS. The strategy is directed at medical centres and surgeries.

“We wanted to help if we could.”

This comes after Butlin’s announced that it would be extending its temporary closure until February 28, due to continued uncertainty over when lockdown restrictions will be lifted.

Mr Pardey said this was ‘hard to take’ for the team but they are ‘being positive about the position we are in going forward’.

Meanwhile, the University of Chichester, which was also suggested by residents as a possible site, said it is not suitable.

A spokesman said: “We don’t really have enough room on campus to provide vaccination sites. Students aren’t yet a priority.

“For the students at risk, we are in conversation with the hospital.

"We still have the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing at the Bognor campus. When students return next month, we will be doing testing on campus.

"That should give us a clearer picture of what's happening. We are governed by government guidelines and probably won't be back until mid February."

Earlier this week, Chichester Cathedral confirmed that it has not been considered as a vaccination hub.

Several Observer readers had written in to enquire why jabs could not be carried out at the cathedral, following the news that several others around the country – including Salisbury, Lichfield and Blackburn Cathedral – were being used for this purpose.

In a statement on Twitter, a cathedral spokesman said they had been in touch with the NHS directly but were told there were ‘a number of reasons’ why it could not be considered. Read more hereThe Sussex COVID-19 Vaccination Programme said it is aware of the feedback and ‘strength of feeling’ about the location of vaccine services in Chichester.

“The way in which GP vaccination services are delivered has been agreed at a national level and each area is typically allocated one GP-led vaccination site. Working with local GPs, we explored where we could best offer the vaccine to people in the Chichester district,” a spokesperson said.

"Many sites in the city centre were considered, such as council buildings and the cathedral.

“However, vaccination sites need to meet a strict set of national criteria that include adequate parking, infection control standards, IT requirements and can commit to accommodating large numbers of people (300+) every day of the week with sole use as a vaccination centre until the autumn.

“As a result, many sites, some of which were more centrally located, were not suitable. However, as the vaccination programme continues to evolve - with new vaccines becoming available and new vaccination centres and pharmacy-led sites ready to go live in Sussex in the coming weeks – we are continuing to consider what other options may be available in Chichester district.

“If there are other opportunities we will share these as soon as possible.”