Covid test centre for tourists opens on Southend seafront

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A walk-in Covid test centre for tourists has opened on Southend seafront as the council encourages people to visit the Essex seaside resort as lockdown restrictions are eased.

The rapid testing facility opposite Southend's famous pier is for people with no symptoms and opened ahead of an expected surge in 'staycation' visitors.

"Anyone can walk in and get tested without an appointment. This is ideally located for seafront businesses and their staff to get tested as well as visitors," said Krishna Ramkhelawon, director of public health for Southend-on-Sea.

"Encouraging people to visit Southend must not be at the expense of people’s health

"Our communities should feel reassured that the huge amount of planning already underway should allow people to travel into Southend and enjoy what the borough has to offer, while keeping both residents and visitors safe.

"Please continue to follow the rules in place, and if meeting outdoors from 29 March, please stay safe and stay two metres apart from those you don’t live with," he added.

In May last year social distancing proved a challenge for thousands of sunseekers in Southend during the heatwave.

The beach was a magnet for visitors from as far away as Leicestershire and Hertfordshire.

Scott Dolling, Director of Culture and Tourism, said: "Normally Southend-on-Sea welcomes over 7 million visitors in a year and contributes over £350m to the local economy, supporting thousands of jobs but the past year has been exceptionally challenging for our hospitality and accommodation sector, arts, culture, events and more. 

"As lockdown eases over the coming weeks and months, we want Southend to bounce back as we reopen and welcome visitors back so our businesses, that rely heavily on tourism, can thrive and get the economy moving."