Sussex’s largest coronavirus testing centre at Brighton’s Amex Stadium is closed

The largest coronavirus testing centre on the south coast at Brighton’s Amex stadium has been shut as football spectators prepare to return.

The testing facility at the Amex
The testing facility at the Amex

The stadium in Falmer, home of Brighton and Hove Albion football team, was transformed into a drive-thru testing facility back in April, with capacity to accommodate 1,000 tests per day.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed it was closed on Wednesday, in order to allow for ‘the safe return of spectators’ to Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club.

The testing facility at the Amex

This is part of a pilot programme, announced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which includes a Brighton and Hove Albion pre-season friendly this weekend read more here.

The spokesman said: “To make sure the regional testing site network remains available for as long as is needed, a small number of sites are being relocated.

“We are working to open two additional testing sites in the region in the coming weeks, which will exceed the previous capacity.”

The locations of the new testing sites have not yet been announced, the spokesman said.

The testing facility at the Amex

In the meantime, anyone who requires a test should visit the online booking system, which will direct them to the nearest site with availability at that time. Alternatively, they can order a home testing kit.

There are also plans to open three walk-through testing sites in the Brighton area next month, the spokesman said, as part of the Government’s drive to improve the accessibility of coronavirus testing for communities.

The UK has capacity to carry out more than 330,000 tests per day and is aiming to grow capacity to 500,000 tests per day by the end of October, confirmed the spokesman.

When the testing site was opened at the Amex, Albion football club chief executive Paul Barber said the facility was ‘hugely impressive, and a great triumph of both teamwork and hard work’ – see more.

He said: “It has been amazing to see the Department of Health and Social Care and the team from Deloitte, who are overseeing the set up of these vital test centres, working alongside the army, club staff, AAA *security and the team from our stadium and the club‘s catering partners Sodexo, whose staff are helping to run the site.”

Photos taken at the site in April show long queues of cars waiting for their tests – read more here.

Gatwick Airport also hosts a drive-thru testing facility at one of its long-stay car parks.

It was also opened in April, with Gatwick Airport chief executive Stewart Wingate saying: “We are pleased to support the national effort against the spread of the coronavirus by allowing Gatwick facilities to be used as a vital testing centre.”

If you have coronavirus symptoms, visit the NHS website here or call 119 to book an appointment or order a home test kit.