States ask for patience as sports left frustrated

THE return of the Community Vaccination Centre to the Sir John Loveridge Hall – displacing numerous sporting activities – is necessary to address the increased demands of the booster vaccination programme.

That is how the States has rationalised a sudden move that has disappointed many hopeful users of the sports hall, some of whom had just prior been assured by Beau Sejour staff that the facilities would be available from 1 September.

The States has moved the CVC to the smaller David Ferguson Hall before taking back the popular sporting venue in coming weeks.

In justifying this decision, which was not covered in depth at the latest media briefing, the States said it initially moved to the David Ferguson Hall due to ‘the reduced current demand’ with the vast majority of islanders 18 and over having been vaccinated.

‘However, since then, further work has been carried out on our plans for the roll-out of the booster programme,’ a States spokesman said.

‘The requirements for this programme were considered by Health & Social Care recently and the Civil Contingencies Authority last week.

‘We contacted relevant sporting groups last week as soon as the decision had been confirmed.

‘While other locations were considered, the booster programme will initially focus on all those over 50 years old and frontline health and care workers, and as such requires the full CVC facility for most days until the end of the year.

‘We appreciate this will be frustrating for those involved in sports affected and we are working with the Guernsey Sports Commission to identify suitable alternative venues, but must again ask for patience as the management of the pandemic must take priority for the time being.’

Guernsey Basketball Association stalwart Pete Beausire has been outspoken ever since the sports hall’s initial repurposing as a CVC last winter.

Pete Beausire in action at St Sampson's High last season. (29883291)

While he respects the need for the CVC, the States’ latest move left him seeking answers, even after the media briefing, given the proportion of islanders who are already fully-vaccinated.

‘I feel like the States of Guernsey don’t want us to have a sports facility there,’ he said ahead of the basketball season starting on 8 October.

‘Do they need to use a full sports hall to push vaccines to about 20% of the population, including some who might not want to be vaccinated?’

The GBA have fortunately secured St Sampson’s High, though Beausire admitted that changing fixtures is ‘days’ worth of work’ and has questioned whether they will return to Beau Sejour at all this season.

Several clubs will be unable to train due to lack of available timeslots at school facilities.

Beausire also criticised the apparent lack of communication by the States.

‘Going by the fact that Beau Sejour allowed us to book courts, it had not been communicated with Beau Sejour staff until last week,’ he added.

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