The O2 Arena has completed its service as a ‘Nightingale’ staff training facility for the UK’s healthcare provider, the NHS, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Having used the venue for 44 days, the NHS now holds the title of longest residency at the arena, a record previously held by Prince, Michael McIntyre and Take That.
To commemorate the milestone, and to show thanks to the venue, staff from the NHS education team signed a piece of nightingale artwork, complete with rainbow wings, created by British artist and illustrator Madeleine Floyd. The framed piece now takes pride of place in the backstage area alongside signed imagery of top artists, comedians and sport stars who have played the venue.
“We’ve hosted some real heroes during these past few weeks and it has been a privilege for AEG, along with our partner O2, to have been able to play our part during these challenging times,” said Danielle Kennedy-Clark, deputy general manager of The O2. “This has been our most important residency to date and we’re grateful to the team for this special piece of artwork to remind us of such a poignant time.”
“We’re proud through our partnership with AEG to have been able to support the fantastic work of the NHS with the training facility at The O2 Arena,” said Mark Evans, CEO of The O2. “We continue to work hard to keep the nation connected, and remain committed to supporting customers, key workers and the NHS with the network and support they need during these unprecedented times.”
While the rest of The O2, including The O2 Arena, remains closed for events, the Icon Outlet retail destination reopened on 15 June. The next part due to open, in July 2020, is Up at The O2, a 90-minute roof-walk climb. All 120 of the NHS education team who ran the training facility are being invited back to enjoy Up at The O2 when it reopens. The O2 staff also recently took part in a staircase challenge in memory of a climb guide who passed away due to Coronavirus. All funds from the challenge will be donated to the NHS.
Icon Outlet reopened with new measures including encouraging visitors to observe the country’s 2m (6.6ft) social distancing advice in stores and around site; and requiring visitors to keep to the left as much as possible, respecting one-way systems where they apply. Many stores have changed their internal layouts to provide more room and easier navigation. Payments are only accepted via cards or contactless methods. Thorough cleaning regimes have been extended, with additional hand-sanitising stations provided and regular deep cleans in all public areas. The location of bathroom facilities have been separated to reduce queues. The venue is also managing capacity to ensure appropriate physical distancing can be maintained throughout Icon Outlet. Visitors can access up to four hours’ free parking until the end of July, and those wishing to avoid the roads are encouraged to travel by Thames Clippers, which runs a frequent river bus service from central London to North Greenwich Pier, once its service resumes.
“We are more than fortunate to have a large, well-ventilated space alongside an experienced team who are on hand to ensure all of our visitors and staff can comfortably enjoy a safe and welcoming shopping experience,” said Janine Constantin-Russell, managing director of Icon Outlet.