The opening of a new coronavirus testing centre St Paul’s Cray has been met with relief by exasperated residents, with some saying they’ve been trying unsuccessfully to book a test for the previous fortnight.
Doors of the new facility opened at 2pm on Friday, making it the second site in Bromley – London’s largest borough – to start testing.
However, not all were happy about the new facility.
Staff from one nearby business expressed dismay that those waiting to get tested were lining up on foot and not waiting in vehicles.
While there was social distancing measures in place, nearby staff were still worried transmission could take place.
“I may as well take off all this PPE,” one staff member said.
They also added the loss of car parking for the testing site meant surrounding streets were clogged with parked cars and extra traffic.
The initial line of people waiting for a test included some who had managed to book online successfully and others who were attending in the hope of getting a test on the day.
One mother, from neighbouring Swanley in Kent, said she had been “trying all week” to book a test.
The closest she had gotten was Northampton – nearly 100 miles away.
“It’s been a nightmare but we’re all facing it,” she said.
Another said they had been attempting to secure a test in London since 7am Tuesday.
It was on the Friday morning where he was finally able to access and book a test at the St Paul’s Cray site, located in the Cotmandene Crescent car park.
The sheer size of the borough means it was still a five-mile trip from his home in Sundridge Park.
London’s newest permanent coronavirus testing centre in the process of being set up at St Paul’s Cray. First tests meant to take place later today @NewsShopper @BBCLondonNews @853london @SthLondonPress pic.twitter.com/hoJb5kLySK
— Lachlan Leeming (@LeemingLachie) September 18, 2020
The opening comes on the same day that Bromley Council announced a third site for the borough, in Crystal Palace Park car park, would likely commence operations next week.
The Crystal Palace site will be managed by G4S, a multi-national security company, who are also in charge of the St Paul’s Cray facility.
A spokesperson for G4S said the Friday would see reduced numbers of testing as part of the pilot day.
Usual numbers of testing will commence Saturday.
The Department of Health and Social Care has been contacted for information on what expected capacity of the site will be.
In London, G4S manages 2 regional testing sites and three local testing sites on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Overall across England G4S currently manages a total of 18 RTS, 30 LTS and 63 Mobile Testing Units on behalf of DHSC.