Damien Moore MP urges rethink over plans for Covid testing site inside busy shopping arcade

Cambridge Arcade in Southport

Damien Moore MP is continuing to receive numerous emails and messages from businesses and people who are deeply concerned over plans to open a Coronavirus local testing centre inside the busy Cambridge Arcade in Southport. 

The MP has vowed to continue urging Sefton Council to rethink its plans and site the facility away from busy shops and restaurants. 

Over a hundered people have now signed a petition against the plans

After Mr Moore revealed his concerns yesterday, Sefton Council released a statement saying that people being tested would be required to follow public health measures, and would be provided with guidance on getting to and from the test site safely. 

Mr Moore said: “I am glad to see that Sefton Council has now published some information on this local testing centre. However, I am not satisfied that my constituents’ concerns have been addressed.

A number of local businesses and local residents have now contacted me to share their concerns. 

“There has been a lack of consultation and a lack of information about these plans. If this had taken place, people would have told them very quickly that it is simply inappropriate to site a Coronavirus testing centre right in the middle of the town centre, with potential Covid sufferers queuing up next to families shopping or sitting down and having their lunch. 

“I support the provision of local testing sites in Southport and am pleased to see that the mobile Coronavirus testing site is back at Southport Eco Centre this weekend (August 1-3). 

“However,  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 businesses in the arcade are working hard to build back trade after being in lockdown and having a testing site nearby could have a significant and lasting impact on them. 

“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.”

In their response, a spokesperson for Sefton Council said: “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.”