The O2 in London has announced today (Thursday) that the arena has been made available as an NHS training facility in preparation for the increased number of additional staff needed in the fight against COVID-19.
The facility will operate from April 12 to June 29, with all staff trained at The O2 to go on to work at the NHS Nightingale field hospital at ExCeL London.
No patients will be treated at The O2, with the NHS to use the arena as an educational training facility to prepare staff. The O2 acknowledged that this will require further rescheduling of events booked to take place during this period, but stressed that its current priority is to help save lives.
Tickets for postponed events will be transferred to rescheduled event dates. Where an event cannot be rescheduled it will be cancelled and tickets will be refunded in line with the promoter’s ticketing policy.
The rest of The O2 will remain closed to the public until further notice. The arena has urged customers to play their part in limiting the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home and practicing social distancing.
Meanwhile, English Premier League club Manchester United has announced a package of measures to support the NHS and has said it is ready to consider and accommodate further requests to use Old Trafford if it is required.
The club has dispatched a fleet of Manchester United Foundation vehicles to Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and the NHS Manchester Foundation Trust Charity, providing over 3,500 gifts for NHS staff, including hospital cleaning and backroom staff. United has also donated medical equipment and consumables to Salford Royal, including protective equipment, dressings and other club medical supplies.
United has also encouraged staff to volunteer for the NHS or in their local communities during the pandemic. Staff will continue to be paid in full if volunteer work takes place during working hours.
Old Trafford has been placed on a reserve list as a possible temporary blood donation centre, which may be activated later in the year in response to a potential fall in blood donations during the COVID-19 crisis.
United has also this week delivered 30,000 items of food and drink to local food banks, hospitals and charitable organisations which usually receive unused food from the club after matches.
Image: The O2