Edinburgh’s Usher Hall opens as coronavirus testing centre

The city centre site opens amid a number of outbreaks at student halls of residence.

A new walk-in coronavirus testing centre has opened at the Usher Hall concert venue in Edinburgh.

The city centre site opens amid a number of outbreaks at student halls of residence across Scotland, including 120 cases at Edinburgh Napier University, and a small number at Queen Margaret University and the University of Edinburgh.

Facilities management firm Mitie will run the Usher Hall centre with the UK Government, offering pre-booked tests in a location accessible by people who do not have a car.

A team has been working since Wednesday to transform the Georgian building into a testing centre, with booths set up in the foyer areas.

Ric Fyfe, mobilisation lead at Mitie, said it is an “amazing” venue and staff have been careful to preserve the building.

He told the PA news agency: “We’re in central Edinburgh, we’re in an iconic venue.

“The Usher Hall have very kindly let us use their facility and it’s easy for people to get to.

“It’s an amazing venue with a lot of space.

“It’s about making sure we take what is a beautiful old building and we make sure we preserve the marble floors… But also we make sure it can be clinically cleaned.”

Scotland Office minister Iain Stewart said: “The UK Government is committed to helping all parts of the UK fight coronavirus.

“We are providing the bulk of Covid testing in Scotland, and this new walk-through centre in Edinburgh comes on top of nine other testing sites across Scotland funded by the UK Government, as well as the Glasgow Lighthouse lab.

“Testing will play a vital part over the coming months, helping to manage local outbreaks and protect livelihoods.

“This walk-through centre will help people in Edinburgh have easy access to a test in the city centre.

“We are pleased to be working with commercial partners and with Edinburgh’s iconic Usher Hall.

“These sites are not possible without the hard work of many people and I would like to thank everyone involved for their incredible efforts.”

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