Leisure centre to open as Covid vaccination base

Rossis Leisure centre at North Walsham. Owner Bruce Rossi.

Bruce Rossi's leisure centre near North Walsham, is to be used as a Covid vaccination clinic, subject to final NHS approval. - Credit: Archant

A leisure centre in North Norfolk is opening as a coronavirus vaccination centre for people living in a rural area.

Rossis Leisure near North Walsham will be used as a vaccination centre for surgeries including Birchwood in North Walsham.

The surgery posted the news on social media, stating it hoped to receive the first delivery of the vaccine next week to be given at Rossis, subject to NHS approval.

Bruce Rossi, owner of Rossis Leisure, confirmed the news, which will be a relief for people, particularly the elderly, living in rural parts of north Norfolk where the nearest vaccination centre has so far been Norwich or Fakenham.

He said he understood it would serve five different GP practices.

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Mr Rossi said: "I offered up my building to the NHS before the last lockdown and there has been a lot of planning to make it happen. You can't just open the doors.

"We've had to unfurlough some staff so it can operate safely and securely. There was somewhere in Long Stratton turned down because of highways but we are in a good position, away from a main road, and we have lots of space inside."

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Mr Rossi, who also owns the JR's American diner, bowling alley and indoor and outdoor play areas next to the leisure centre, said the building had been deep-cleaned in readiness.

"It means people won't have as far to travel to get a vaccination."

And he said he was looking forward to reopening his businesses when Covid restrictions eased. "We are safeguarding jobs and plan to reopen as soon as we can."

Bruce Rossi is pictured outside the family firm in North Walsham. Picture: David Bale

Bruce Rossi is pictured outside the leisure centre, situated in the countryside near North Walsham. - Credit: Archant

Birchwood Medical Practice in North Walsham issued an update on its Facebook page, stating: "We are pleased to announce that we should be receiving our first deliveries of Covid vaccinations during the week commencing January 11, all subject to agreement and confirmation from NHS England.

"We are dedicated to making these vaccines available as quickly as possible. Vaccination clinics will be held at Rossis Leisure Centre, once again subject to approval by NHS England." 

Like other surgeries, Birchwood asked patients not to phone , but that they would be contacting people in due course.  

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