An Army-operated coronavirus testing centre is “almost certain” to commence work in Bromley from Friday 1st May unless a last-minute Government backflip on the plans occurs.
Bromley Council confirmed it had signed off on the plans to establish a testing centre in the Norman Park car park, off Hayes Lane, following inquiries from the local democracy reporting service.
It is understood the Army will fully manage the site and testing at the facility, which is expected to operate between 10am and 5pm.
The new centre should provide welcome relief to south-east residents who would otherwise be forced to travel to a testing facility at the 02 Arena in Greenwich, more than 10 miles away.
The news comes as the Government continues a roll-out of Army-manned mobile testing centres across the UK.
The Government has recently expanded the criteria for those eligible to be tested to include care home residents and staff, people over 65 and anyone who cannot work at home, alongside health workers and those in hospital.
The Government said that more than 33,000 drive-through appointments were booked on Wednesday.
It has repeatedly stated its goal was to reach 100,000 tests a day by the end of April, with the Bromley facility part of reaching that target.
The council said signage confirming the new arrangements would be erected as needed, with pedestrian access to the park remaining unchanged.
Council leader Colin Smith said the Government was welcome to use the site “for as long as needed”.
“With so much work going on nationally, locally and individually to fight this dreadful virus on all levels, when asked for assistance to find a suitable space, this was a very easy decision to make, despite the slight inconvenience to regular park users for which I obviously apologise,” he said.
“If this proves to be needed, having a more locally available option for Bromley’s frontline workers who would otherwise have had to trudge over to the O2 for their appointment is the very least we can do for them I hope we all agree, as well as helping with the overall testing strategy Government have outlined to us all.”
“Clearly Government is welcome to use this site for as long as is needed, whilst Norman Park, in line with all our parks, remains very much open for exercise and this will continue to be the case.”
The council leader asked residents who would otherwise use the site to “park responsibly elsewhere” so that local residents and those needing to drive through the area were not unduly inconvenienced.
Cllr Smith also urged residents to maintain disciple with social distancing as the country prepares to enter a third-month impacted by lockdown.
“So many people have given so much already since the lockdown began, some their very lives, that it would be an absolute tragedy to throw all that sacrifice away now by abandoning our collective responsibility prematurely,” the Bickley ward member said.
“Be in no doubt that this virus remains absolutely merciless. No-one, no family and no group of friends are safe from it so please stick with the programme and continue to keep doing do the right thing for the greater good, no matter how tedious that routine has become.
“This moment will pass all the sooner the more of us comply and being a selfless team player has never been more important, or had greater meaning in our lifetimes.”
Residents who want to check their eligibility and book a test can visit the Government’s Covid-19 website at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus