Published: 22:02, 05 January 2021
| Updated: 07:40, 06 January 2021
Closed pubs in Kent could be transformed into vaccination centres.
Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame, says his venues could be turned into hubs for Covid-19 jabs as quickly as 'overnight' if the government wanted it.
Mr Neame offers to help with the vaccination programme
With national lockdown announced last night, all pubs and restaurants are now closed across the country as people are ordered to stay home in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.
As a result, scores of venues are left empty and Mr Neame says they 'might as well' be put to use.
He says they are ideal locations for vaccination centres because they have lots of refrigeration space, big car parks and buildings and are well located in the community.
Mr Neame told KentOnline that national lockdown was 'not unexpected' and seems to be the 'only way' to slow or stop the virus.
He said: "It seems to me that everything is resting on the speed in which we can get the vaccination programme going.
"To that end we have offered our pubs to act as vaccine hubs to the government.
"Other people in the industry have done the same too.
"Let's just hope they take that up. Let's hope they use the organisational skills of a company like ours to help with the logistical challenges.
"We vaccinate our staff for flu every year, under supervision of course.
"There's no reason we can't do the same for Covid."
Mr Neame added that the government needs to use all 'available resources' and spread the vaccine as 'quickly as possible' across the community. He says he hopes some normality could then return by Easter, citing February as unrealistic.
Shepherd Neame is Britain's oldest brewer and is based in Faversham. It also runs many pubs across Kent.
In Kent, testing for coronavirus is already taking place at a club - Sheerness East Working Men's Club on Sheppey.