The Covid-19 testing site at Kernan playing fields will be removed in June, members of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s governance, resources and strategy committee have been told.
At a meeting of the committee on Wednesday, April 13, members were told the UK Health Security Agency has advised a more targeted approach to test and trace will be introduced from April 22.
As a result, PCR testing will no longer be recommended or available for most of the general public. This means the Covid-19 in-person testing site at Kernan will close at the end of business on April 22.
However, the structures on site will not be removed immediately with the committee advised the start date to remove the infrastructure is the week commencing June 20.
No further detail was provided at the meeting but officers did note that as further details are provided councillors will be informed accordingly.
The committee’s vice-chair, Alderman Kenneth Twyble asked if the site would be returned to how it was found prior to the testing centre’s arrival and was assured by the council’s head of estates and asset management, Jonathan Hayes that would be the case.
“I can confirm that in setting up the original lease there was a condition to ensure they repair defects so a survey will be carried out once all items have been removed,” said Mr Hayes.
“Making good of defects is part of the conditions of the lease we have with the department.”
Councillor Margaret Tinsley then asked how quickly these defects will be restored and how long it will take for Council to transform the area “into a proper car park”.
“Prior to the testing centre using it we had discussed this transformation because of the issues Kernan residents are having with the car parking when the playing fields are in use,” said Cllr Tinsley.
“We have talked about making this a proper car park for the facilities down there and that is a good news story and I am just wondering how quickly we can get this sorted.”
Mr Hayes said having just received the correspondence around the demobilisation, officers are currently “looking at alternative uses” for the site.
He also promised to follow up with Cllr Tinsley when he gets more information from those officers.
Upon hearing this, Councillor Thomas Larkham asked for that information to be shared with all Craigavon councillors, not just Cllr Tinsley.