Ashton Gate Stadium as vaccination center

Video: Bristol Sport (YouTube)

The UK Government has named Ashton Gate Stadium as one among the seven “super-vaccination” centers as the new coronavirus strain is causing havoc in the United Kingdom sending the country into a nationwide lockdown.

On January 8th, 2021, a Government spokesperson confirmed all seven locations across England will be opening from next week.

Ashton Gate is a stadium in Ashton Gate, Bristol, England, and is the home of Bristol City F.C. and the Bristol Bears. Located in the South-West of the City, just South of the River Avon, it currently has an all-seated capacity of 27,000.

Mark Kelly, Managing Director, Ashton Gate, said, “Ashton Gate is proud to support the delivery of this vaccination program. The stadium sits in the heart of the community and to be able to help in whatever way we can is a real honor. We have previously partnered with the National Health Service (NHS) for COVID-testing here at the stadium and it is perfectly set up to be able to help the NHS with this incredibly important program.”

Added Kelly, “The NHS is leading the program and they will be managing the distribution of the vaccine, starting with priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The vaccination center has taken over the South concourse of the stadium and it is a self-contained space with plenty of room for social distancing, enabling a safe and efficient delivery of the vaccine, including one-way systems.”

He further continued, “Matchdays will continue as they have been throughout the pandemic, and when fans are able to return to stadia, we will be able to accommodate that alongside the vaccination program.”

Mark Kelly, Managing Director, Ashton Gate Ltd., UK, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

Dr Tim Whittlestone, Clinical Lead for the NHS vaccination program in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, stated, “We are delighted to be able to roll out the next phase of the vaccination program in partnership with the Ashton Gate Stadium. Our shared priority is a safe and effective roll-out for everyone in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. Our local general practitioners (GPs), primary care networks and hospital staff have pulled out all the stops to begin vaccinating the over 80s, care home residents and some frontline health and social care staff to date.”

“The new AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine coming onstream, alongside the increased capacity at Ashton Gate, should allow us to move through the prioritization categories at pace. It’s a really exciting development, but it will still take time to reach everyone who needs to be vaccinated. The public can support us by continuing to be patient – we will get to you, and the NHS will be in touch when it is your turn.”

Ashton Gate Chairman Martin Griffiths added: “Throughout this pandemic, Ashton Gate has remained a beacon of hope for some of the most vulnerable in society, delivering thousands of lunches to local communities through our food delivery program in partnership with Fareshare UK charity.”

Griffiths added, “We are ready to step up once again and will continue to work closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement throughout the vaccination program.”

The National Health Service (NHS) is the umbrella term for the publicly-funded healthcare systems of the United Kingdom. Since 1948, they have been funded out of general taxation. There are four systems, one for each of the four home nations of the United Kingdom.

The 10 Downing Street confirmed that the conference and sports centers will be staffed by a mixture of NHS staff and volunteers to add to 775 GP-led centers and 207 hospital sites due to open by the end of this week.

The seven centers named are – Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol, London’s Excel Centre, Manchester Tennis and Football Centre, Robertson House, Stevenage, Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey, Millennium Point in Birmingham and Newcastle’s Centre for Life.

Vaccinations will only be issued to those that have received their NHS vaccination invite and the vaccination centers will be operating strictly by appointment only. Members of the public are asked not to arrive at the centers without prior appointment.

Elland Road

English Premier League football club Leeds United has reached an agreement for Elland Road (football stadium in Leeds, England) to serve as a COVID-19 vaccination center, while the new home of the English professional football club AFC Wimbledon – Plough Lane – will also reportedly follow suit.

The NHS has confirmed Elland Road for one of four large vaccination sites being established in West Yorkshire, along with The John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield, home of English professional football club Huddersfield Town.

The two arenas will be part of the rollout of the new Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine in the region. On its official Twitter account, United said, “#LUFC is delighted to be part of #LeedsMakingHistory and host a vaccination centre at Elland Road. The NHS will contact you when it’s your turn to get vaccinated.”

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