The historic Manchester Rates Hall will this week be transformed into the city’s latest Covid-19 asymptomatic testing site.
The Grade 2 listed building, which carves a narrow line between the Town Hall Extension on one side and the Central Library on the other, will go live on Wednesday 3 February.
Staffed in the first week by soldiers from the First Battalion, Coldstream Guards and then afterwards by local healthcare teams, the Rates Hall will be open to key workers and other front line staff who cannot work from home, and who will be able to book an appointment to take a Covid-19 lateral flow test.
As it is arguably one of the grandest buildings being used as part of the fight against Covid-19, special steps have been taken to ensure it is protected as part of this project.
To preserve the stone flooring a durable temporary surface has been laid so that when life returns to normal, the Rates Hall will be as spectacular as it was before the pandemic.
Councillor Bev Craig, Executive Member for Adult Health and Wellbeing for Manchester City Council, said: “The Rates Hall was once a thriving part of the Town Hall, acting as the connection point between us and the people we serve. Whether it was to get advice on housing, benefits or simply to find somewhere to grab a bite to eat, this was the place where you’d see all walks of life.
“Due to the pandemic this of course had to change, with a vastly reduced number of people coming through this Hall on a daily basis. It is fantastic that the Hall will once again be used to carry out essential services for Mancunians.
“In recent weeks the situation in Manchester has been improving but we cannot afford to be complacent. The transformation of a Grade 2 building into an asymptomatic testing site underlines that Covid-19 still poses a very real risk to our residents. I would urge everyone to keep playing their part and stick to Government guidelines so that one day we can return to normal.”
Officer in Command of Rates Hall ATS, Lieutenant Lorenzo Bergamo Andreis, 10 Platoon Commander, said: “The Guardsmen have done a terrific job in converting the stunning Rates Hall into a fully functional Asymptomatic Covid Testing Site in such a short period of time. Manchester City Council have been pivotal in making this happen, ensuring we have the correct supplies available in order for us to execute our task. We look forward to opening tomorrow and I encourage all essential workers to make a booking, and pop in for a test.”
For more information on asymptomatic testing, visit Manchester City Council's website.