"We'll forego grant to help vaccinate"

Oakman Inns is offering to forego the latest lockdown grant to allow the National Health Trusts to use its venues as vaccination centres.

The chief executive of Oakman Inns is offering to forego the chancellor’s latest lockdown grant if he allows National Health Trusts to use Oakman venues as vaccination centres.

Under the business grants scheme, Oakman Inns would have received more than £250,000 during the next four months, but CEO Dermot King (pictured left with Peter Borg-Neal) is ready to give that back to the government to help pay for a bigger and quicker vaccination roll-out.

“The only route to any normality is through mass vaccination and, for that, the NHS needs to be able to work at scale," says King. "The entire hospitality industry is desperate to re-open as quickly as possible before we have huge scale redundancies across the sector.”

With reports suggesting that there are plans to use pharmacists to deliver vaccinations, King says allowing them to work in large pubs and restaurants would mean they could be more effective.

Oakman Inns has 28 properties across many of the Home Counties and the Midlands, and, like many pubs and restaurants, these venues are Covid-19 safe and have large refrigeration areas to help with storage.

“Our pubs have large indoor spaces and in some cases large car parks and accommodation, which could accommodate large numbers of people around the clock. Clearly, the money offered by the chancellor would help us in the short-term, but realistically the only way all of us can get back to normal is to get the country vaccinated. We would rather let the government keep their hand-out to invest it in using hospitality venues as vaccination centres for the greater good of all.

“The hospitality sector has the venues, it has the infrastructure, the venues are sitting empty, and our offer even includes a contribution towards the cost of the scheme. We want to help the government and the people of the UK beat Covid-19, because the quicker we’re vaccinated, the more lives we save, the more jobs we save, the more businesses we save, and we’re prepared to do whatever it takes to see that happen.”