Oakman offers to swap £250k in grants for making sites vaccine hubs

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Operator opinion: '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,' says Oakman chief executive Dermot King
Operator opinion: '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,' says Oakman chief executive Dermot King

Related tags: Oakman inns, Dermot King, Multi-site pub operators, Midlands, Finance, Health and safety

Oakman Inns has offered to forego £250,000 in grants in exchange for using its sites as vaccination centres.

The group estimated under the Chancellor’s business grants announced this week, Oakman would be eligible for more than a quarter of a million pounds during the next four months.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced this week (Tuesday 5 January) pubs could claim grants of up to £9,000​, dependent on rateable value amid the third national lockdown.

The 28-strong operator has venues across the Home Counties and Midlands and stated its large refrigeration areas were Covid-safe.

Oakman chief executive Dermot King said: “The only route to any normality is through mass vaccination and for that the NHS needs to be able to work at scale. The entire hospitality industry is desperate to reopen as quickly as possible before we have huge scale redundancies across the sector,” he said.

“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."

Greater good

King added: “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.”

Oakman isn’t the only pub operator to offer up its services as vaccine hubs with BrewDog and Loungers also putting forward their venues​.

BrewDog co-founder James Watt tweeted, offering the firm’s venues up as vaccine hubs, copying in health secretary Matt Hancock and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Here to help

On New Year’s Eve, Watt shared: “We would like to offer our closed BrewDog venues to help with a quick roll out of the vaccine. For free.

“We have waiting areas, huge refrigerators, separate rooms for vaccinations and an ace team who can help organised. We want to help.”

Sturgeon replied, stating she would pass the information on to her vaccination team.

Furthermore, Loungers boss Alex Reilley also tweeted Hancock, Zahawi and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, putting forward his sites to aid the vaccine roll out.

He said: “We have the Loungers in a significant number of the areas listed without a vaccine hub (Newark, Bedford, Aylesbury, Nuneaton, Mansfield…).

“We have large venues and extensive refrigeration – we’re here to help, you just need to ask.”

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