Two walk-in coronavirus testing centres could open in York within weeks

Coronavirus testing at Heathrow Airport. Photograph: LHR Airports Limited

Two walk-in coronavirus testing centres could open in York – but not until the end of October at the earliest.

York’s director of public health Sharon Stoltz has requested a walk-in centre opens in the city as soon as possible and met this week with representatives from Deloitte, the company that runs testing centres for the government.

She said no site has been chosen yet – and that she was worried if the city only got one walk-in centre it would be located conveniently for students but not for residents who cannot get to the Poppleton Bar Park&Ride testing centre.

Ms Stoltz said: “During that meeting there was discussion of three potential sites and for a walk-in centre.

“None of those sites were deemed to perfectly meet and the asks of Deloitte.

“The Hospital Fields site was kind of earmarked as a potential and but there was also concern around any walk-in site not just being accessible to students but accessible to our communities as well.

“The team are now looking for two walk-in centre sites and she said once they have been chosen, the test centre takes three to four weeks to build.”

Hopeful but not certain

The coronavirus testing station at Poppleton Park&Ride. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

She said the earliest a site could be chosen is October 4, adding: “I’m sure that as a board we would prefer it to happen faster than that.

“I’m hopeful but not 100 per cent certain and that we will have a site up and running at that time.”

But a business case has to be submitted and other authorities requesting walk-in test centres may get priority.

York central MP Rachael Maskell called for the city to be a pilot for rapid testing.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday she said: “The reputation of our city will be built on our city being safe, and that is why we need an excellent test and trace system in York.

“I ask [the Minister] to make representations to the Department of Health and Social Care for our city to have a walk-in centre for testing.

“It would be a game-changer for tourism, because we cannot expect visitors who come in by train to then go out to a drive-in centre for testing.

“We also know that many people in our city will want to get out again quickly, so I ask not only for a walk-in centre, but that we become a pilot for the rapid tests that are to be introduced.”