Stoke City’s bet365 Stadium car park could remain a testing centre for Covid-19 until November – after being upgraded to be used by anyone showing coronavirus symptoms.
The drive-through facility has only been used as a ‘satellite centre’ since April, meaning only certain key workers have been able to get tested – with anyone else in the Potteries needing to go to Manchester Airport or further afield.
But from Friday, anyone who has suspected coronavirus in North Staffordshire will be able to book a test at the stadium via the NHS website.
Stoke, meanwhile, are hoping to return to play behind-closed-doors matches in the Championship next month. There are four home games remaining in the truncated 2019/20 season and the pitch has already undergone annual renovation work.
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Richard Smith, Stoke’s managing director and the property director for the bet365 group, said: “We are delighted to be able to assist with the national Covid-19 testing effort by providing the bet365 Stadium south car park for use as a regional testing centre for people from the city and surrounding area.
“This will replace the satellite centre which has been in operation at the stadium since April 20 and mean that people have a locally accessible test centre in addition to the mobile testing unit which the bet365 Group has also been supporting at bet365 House.”
One thousand people will now be able to be tested every day at Stoke City – up from 100 a day over the last month.
The testing centre is being operated in partnership with Sodexo, and will offer assisted and self-administered tests. Those tested will receive their results within a few days.
In addition to the regional test sites, 116 mobile testing units operated by the Armed Forces travel around the UK to further increase access to coronavirus testing. They respond to need, travelling to test at sites including care homes, police stations and prisons. New units are being brought into operation each day.
The Government has set up a home-testing service, supported by Amazon’s logistics network and other commercial partners. Home test kits can be delivered to someone’s door so they can test themselves and their family without leaving the house.
Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus can now ask for a test through the NHS website.
Symptoms include a high temperature; a new, continuous cough; or a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste.
If you’re an essential worker you can apply for priority testing through gov.uk by following the guidance on testing for essential workers. You can also get tested through this route if you have symptoms of coronavirus and live with an essential worker.
Essential workers include NHS and social care staff, essential public services staff, police and fire officers, transport workers and those involved in food production and distribution. For a full list click here.
These tests for essential workers are prioritised over the tests available for the wider public through the NHS.
In England, you can get tested if you’re a social care worker or resident in a care home whether you have symptoms or not. Click here for more guidance on testing for care home residents and workers.
Twice-weekly tests for Stoke City players and staff, as with all Championship and Premier League clubs, is a private operation that do not have any impact on NHS testing resources.
There is no cost to the taxpayer, with clubs footing the bill themselves.