The O2 Arena in London, UK, is to adapt its use as a concert and sporting event venue into a temporary facility to train NHS nurses and staff to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Arenas typically used for large events and concerts, around the world are opening their doors to health organisations and are being transformed into emergency field hospitals, testing centres and training facilities. The O2 Arena, a multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue, will not currently host any live sporting action or musical concerts anytime soon due to the coronavirus crisis, so its owners have offered up its use to the National Health Service.
Following criticism from reports that the owners of the ExCel Centre were allegedly charging the NHS millions for the use of its venue (reports state this is no longer the case), the O2 is keen to stress that it will not be charging a hire fee. Any cost incurred by the venue to provide services required by the NHS are being passed on at cost and the venue will not profit from the O2’s use.
In a statement from the O2 Arena’s owners, it read:
“The O2 is proud to be announcing today that in order to help support the NHS with their preparation for the large number of additional staff needed in the effort to tackle COVID-19, The O2 arena has been made available as an NHS training facility, operating from 12th April – 29th June 2020. The staff trained will go on to work at the NHS Nightingale field hospital at ExCel London.
The NHS will be using this as an educational training facility to prepare staff and no patients will be treated on site.
While this will require further rescheduling of events booked to take place during this period, the priority for us all at this time is to help save lives and we know our customers will understand our desire to support the NHS in this way. The rest of The O2 will remain closed to the public until further notice.
We encourage our customers to play their part during these difficult times by following government instructions to stay at home and practice social distancing.”