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Theatres and events venues aid vaccination effort across the UK

Venues across the UK, unable to be used for their usual purpose, will aid the vaccine effort

The Lights, a theatre in Andover
© Mike Cattell / flickr (CC BY 2.0)

All hands are currently on deck trying to make the vaccine roll-out as efficient and as accessible as possible.

Arts venues are playing a part in this – across the UK theatres and event spaces are either currently being used or being earmarked for vaccine distribution.

In Lancashire, Thornton Little Theatre and the Civic Centre in Poulton will help deliver the vaccine (alongside Blackburn Cathedral, which will act as the central vaccination centre for the area). Hertford Theatre opened a vaccination centre in December, administering the jab first for those at risk (anyone hoping to get a vaccine should wait to be contacted, venues stress). The Lights Theatre in Andover and Maidenhead's Desborough Theatre have been used for the same purpose since last month as well.

From next week, Springfields Events Centre in Spalding will be the area's centre, it has been revealed. Venue Cymru has been delivering vaccines since the middle of December for those based across Llandudno.

In November, Bromsgrove's Artrix was said to be earmarked as a potential site after an NHS job advert specified the address, though this is to be confirmed. In Southend, council leaders have suggested that Cliffs Pavilion and the Palace Theatre could be used as a vaccine hub. According to reports, in total over 700 spaces have been roped in to help boost the roll-out.

This week, the UK government unveiled seven "mass vaccination hubs" – including the ExCel Centre in London and Millennium Point in Birmingham.

On Twitter, the Isle of Wight festival boss John Giddings said: "We have thousands of skilled people capable of running events & empty theatres/clubs/arenas – give us the vaccines & we will work 24 hours a day to sort it?" While Giddings' time-scale is optimistic, the point is a justified one – venues won't be open until the vaccine has made a large impact on the current volume of cases and the health risks created by Covid.

In London, clubs such as G-A-Y, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and Heaven have already offered their spaces for use (as has the iconic Nightingale in Birmingham), while Tottenham are the first Premier League club to offer their stadium as a venue.

In an interview over Christmas, venue owner and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber said he was more than up for using theatres as a potential distribution centre: "If they ask us, we'll have our buildings ready."

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