The ACC Liverpool Group, which received one of the biggest Culture Recovery Fund grants (£2,972,659) yet distributed, said its Exhibition Centre Liverpool venue has been deployed for Covid-19 testing.

The company, which operates the ACC Liverpool, M&S Bank Arena, Exhibition Centre Liverpool and ticketing agency Ticket Quarter, said the military is situated at the venue to support Liverpool City Council in the planning, coordination and delivery of whole-city testing.  Lieutenant-General Tyrone Urch, who commands the 7,500-strong military Covid Support Force, visited Exhibition Centre Liverpool to launch the initiative.

The venue opened its doors to members of the public who are not displaying symptoms, with many people queuing at centres to get tested. It is one of 19 sites being deployed as a testing centre with plans for more to open across the city. More than 23,000 people have been tested so far in the mass-testing pilot.

The ACC Liverpool Group chief executive Bob Prattey said the venue has been committed to supporting Liverpool City Council throughout the pandemic, adding that it has served as a logistical distribution hub for deliveries of PPE equipment as well as food and household goods for the vulnerable.

“We are pleased to be able to provide a large venue to facilitate this vital and ground-breaking mass testing.  We will do everything we can to continue to support Liverpool City Region as required,” he said.

It is expected that the pilot will last initially for around two weeks, with a view to it being extended.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said, “This city has been given the opportunity to make a real difference in the fight against Covid-19 and I urge everyone to do their bit and get tested.

“This is a massive project involving many different partners across the city and it is a fantastic Team Liverpool effort so far.  “

Director of Public Health Matt Ashton said, “The aim of this project is to quickly identify people who have the virus and reduce transmission substantially. To be the only city to be piloting this ground-breaking mass testing programme is very exciting.”