Newbury Racecourse to shut Covid vaccine hub for races

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image captionThe vaccination hub at Newbury Racecourse will close for a scheduled race on Wednesday

A Covid-19 vaccination hub at a racecourse is temporarily shutting to allow horse racing to go ahead.

The hub opened at Newbury Racecourse in Berkshire on Thursday and can provide up to 1,500 jabs a day.

But the centre will shut for a day on Wednesday for a scheduled race day, which are still allowed under lockdown rules.

A spokeswoman for the racecourse said the race day "had always been planned" and the NHS was made aware of it.

Horse racing is allowed to continue during lockdown because it is classified as an elite sport by the government.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionThe vaccination at the racecourse can provide up to 1,500 jabs daily

The spokeswoman for the racecourse said: "We have made provision for it so it is not hampering the vaccination process.

"The vaccination centre opened last week and the NHS was made aware of the race day.

"We have an abundance of space but a decision was made we would not operate both the race day and the vaccination centre this week but that is being reviewed so both may be open in the future."

Newbury has 29 race days scheduled for the year, including Wednesday, one in February and four in March.

Dr Abid Irfan, who chairs Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said the racecourse was chosen as a venue for reasons including ease of access and infection control.

He told West Berkshire Council's Local Outbreak Engagement Board on Monday: "If there's a race day then the racecourse has said we can't be on site.

"We weren't quite sure of race days going ahead... but we will sort it once we've got the dates pinned down."

A spokeswoman for Berkshire West CCG added: "Local NHS staff are working hard to continue to deliver vaccinations throughout the week and into the weekend, and we are working with Newbury Racecourse so vaccinations can continue to take place safely on race days in future."

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