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Vaccination centre decision "extremely disruptive" to local sports

Vaccination centre decision

Tuesday 01 December 2020

Vaccination centre decision "extremely disruptive" to local sports

The States has been criticised for selecting the Sir John Loveridge Hall as the venue for its mass vaccination centre by the Guernsey Sports Commission, who say many local clubs will find it "impossible" to make alternative arrangements.

It was revealed on Friday that the popular sports hall at Beau Sejour has been chosen as Guernsey's specialised covid-19 vaccination centre following what has been described as an "extensive decision-making process".

With plans to administer around 47,000 vaccines, senior officials say Beau Sejour is one of the only places that can cope with the footfall and other "logistical challenges" posed by a mass immunisation facility. 

The Guernsey Sports Commission's Operations Director Graham Chester wanted to know the full criteria behind the decision, which he feels has neglected to consider the impact on local sports clubs.

"Whilst we understand the need for the community vaccination centre, we are disappointed that the impact on sport and physical activity does not appear to have been given sufficient priority within the criteria for selecting the site," he said. 

Deputy Peter Ferbrache

Pictured: Policy & Resources President Peter Ferbrache said there had been an "extensive" decision-making process. 

"The Sir John Loveridge Hall is the island’s only large community sports hall and losing it for such a long period of time is going to be extremely disruptive to a large number of sports, their players, coaches, supporters and the wider community.

"We would like to understand the criteria used for deciding to select the sports hall ahead of any others States-owned or indeed private buildings that may also have been suitable to house the vaccination centre."

The Commission is collating a full list of sport and activity sessions potentially affected and is asking member sports to get in contact if they have any concerns.

"We are in contact with a number of sporting organisations including basketball, volleyball, trampolining and Guernsey Mobility Let’s Go, who use the sports hall on a regular basis for training and competition, with a view to trying to find alternative venues," said Mr Chester.

"But the reality is that it is going to be impossible to find a suitable home for all these activities, many of which require specific equipment and storage for that equipment.

Beau Sejour

Pictured: Beau Sejour is regarded as one of the few places that has the infrastructure needed to set up a mass vaccination centre. 

Schools who rely on the hall for some PE lessons and those hoping to participate in the upcoming Specsavers Youth Games will also be affected. 

"We were putting the final touches to the schedule for the 2021 Specsavers Youth Games due to take place in May, with a number of sports relying on the sports hall to be able to offer the training sessions and provide the competition venue for Games Day. We are working on trying to book alternative venues, but again this may not prove possible for all sports.

"We are also looking at how we can find alternative venues for the schools who currently use the sports hall for their weekly PE sessions including students from La Mare de Carteret High who undertake core and GCSE PE lessons there. It may be that those schools will have to reduce their PE lesson time over the next few months."

According to the States, it should take 10 days to set up the centre so that it is ready to roll out mass vaccinations, with preparations due to begin on 21 December.

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