Ice rinks in UK could act as temporary mortuaries during coronavirus pandemic

Ice rinks could be turned into makeshift mortuaries under plans being considered by officials to deal with a large number of deaths from coronavirus.

Regional planners across the UK have discussed how some local rinks might be used if the number of victims exceeds expectations.

The National Ice Centre in Nottingham, one of several facilities approached by the Government. Credit: PA

The National Ice Centre in Nottingham - which houses an Olympic-sized twin ice pad - is one of several facilities which have been approached by Government officials about ways its buildings could be used to help authorities responding to deaths from Covid-19.

A spokesperson for the rink confirmed its team was happy to facilitate whatever requests were made by local or national planners.

A temporary morgue is already being constructed inside a hanger at Birmingham Airport, with space for up to 12,000 bodies.

But ice rinks are also being considered because of the low temperature and controlled environment.

Madrid's ice-skating rink is now being used as a makeshift morgue given the rapid increase in deaths in the Spanish capital. Credit: AP

The plans reflect the way authorities responded to the Lockerbie air disaster in 1988 when the bodies of some victims were stored at a local skating rink.

In Madrid last week, a similar facility was turned into a morgue to handle a surge in deaths in the Spanish capital.

But managers of some rinks in the UK decided to melt their ice sheets when Government restrictions on social distancing were introduced.

It could take several weeks to recondition the facilities.

London's ExCel centre is being made into a temporary hospital to deal with the expected rise in patients during the outbreak. Credit: PA

A study by Ice Tech UK - an ice rink construction company - which was circulated among facilities managers and government officials last week, said the cost of running such mortuaries at ice rinks could be around £50,000 per month.

"We have assessed that each typical ice pad could hold between 850 and 1,250 bodies depending upon the storage arrangements proposed and agreed," the report said.

"Being able to maintain the deceased body for several days/weeks in low temperature conditions will afford the authorities time to correctly identify, assess and prepare the deceased in a manner which is befitting in traditional British Standards and beliefs."

Last week, ITV News revealed that David Lloyd health clubs was in talks with the Government about converting a "handful" of its largest gyms into emergency medical facilities in an attempt to prevent the NHS becoming overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic.

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