Owner of cafe next to new testing centre praises ‘quick reaction’

A new coronavirus testing site in Newark has led to a positive response from people in the community who say it will be a reassurance to residents.

Following a rise in the number of cases in the Newark area, public health officials said Newark had become “a cause for concern” and a decision was taken to introduce a mobile testing site from August 10.

The site will be based at a lorry park behind Castle House for three days in hopes this will make it easier for residents to access testing rather than having to travel.

The owner of Carriages Cafe, which is just a stone’s throw from where the new testing site will be, explained how the news has impacted the community.

Wendy Baird only reopened the doors to the vintage, station-style venue yesterday (August 6) following the day when news broke that staff members at a nearby factory had tested positive.

Bakkavor Desserts in Jessops Way employs some 1,600 staff and provides food products to retailers such as Tesco and Waitrose.

Responding to the plans for the testing site, Wendy said: “I think it’s a really good decision and it will put people’s minds at rest.

“The news has been ricocheting around Newark, bouncing off the already anxious minds.

“But it’s good the authorities have reacted really quickly to it.”

Last week the latest seven-day figures revealed virus cases in Newark and Sherwood had risen from five new cases in the week up to July 23 to a total of 13 in the following week up to July 30.

The infection rate also increased from 4.1% to 10.7% in the same period.

“It’s a good reminder that the virus is still out there,” Wendy added.

“It tells people not to be complacent, as this is still a very real threat, as horrible as it sounds.

“It has been the number one topic that everyone is talking about today (August 7) since we reopened, but people have been saying they do feel safe in here.

“I think the responsibility lies with me to make my customers feel safe but then people also need to be responsible for themselves too, following the guidance.”

Get our top stories sent to you every day

Want us to send you a daily round-up of our biggest stories, and breaking news alerts, direct to your email inbox?

Sign up to our newsletter here.

Nottinghamshire County Councillor Keith Girling, who represents Newark West said the decision was “appropriate and good”.

He added: “My thoughts go out to those who have tested positive recently and I hope they are safe and well.

“The reaction from Public Health has been appropriate and good, especially to do it as quick as they are doing.

“Looking at the spike in cases in context, it is still very low in terms of the average, although the percentage does look very high.

“But I would urge the community not to panic, to do the right thing, wash your hands, be aware of symptoms – the council will do all we can to support these efforts.

“I have been tested myself a while ago, but I had to travel to the City Hospital. But I have been through the slick process, you don’t need to get out of your car, it’s very efficient.

“Results came within 24 hours.

“I would imagine you need an appointment, so best not just to turn up or go if you don’t need to.

“But now it’s on your doorstep, people don’t need to panic, they can phone in and be guided through what they need to do.

“I generally think people have been sensible and following rules. But it is worrying to see a spike so hopefully this will now be addressed once we have everything in place.”

Jonathan Gribbin, director of public health at Nottinghamshire County Council, previously said: “Rates of COVID-19 were decreasing in Nottinghamshire.

“But that is no longer the case and it is causing us some concern. COVID-19 has not gone away and what we are seeing now is an increase in new cases.

“We are taking a proactive approach by working with our partners to offer this mobile testing unit to people in Newark and Sherwood.

“We also know that it can be difficult for some people to travel to one of the current testing centres in Nottingham or Mansfield, so we believe that this approach will make things easier for Newark residents who have symptoms to get tested.

“It is still critical that everyone follows social distancing guidance in full, including guidelines about car sharing, washing our hands regularly, wearing face coverings, self-isolating and quickly getting a test if we develop symptoms.”

The county council says bookings can be made online or by phoning 119 from Saturday 8 August onwards.


Nottinghamshire Live – Local News