Covid-19: Alton Towers staff carry out coronavirus tests

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Man holding swab about to do test
Image caption,
The tests are being carried out at the Crooked Spoon restaurant at the park

Coronavirus tests have been carried out at Alton Towers in an effort to bring down the number of cases in Staffordshire. .

The medical team at the theme park have been trained to use the rapid tests and are hosting a session for nearby residents on Friday.

The park was forced to close in December when the government reintroduced tougher restrictions.

It said it wanted to do everything it could to keep staff and locals safe.

Residents living in the local villages of Farley, Alton and Oakamoor without symptoms have been invited to take part in the community testing at a restaurant on the resort.

Image caption,
One of the residents tested on Friday, Dawn Bearcroft, said she had come to get "peace of mind" for herself and her family

Henry Terry has been among the people getting tested on Friday and said his had come back negative.

"I start back at work tomorrow and I wanted to make sure that I was not going to be infecting anyone," he said. "It is my first day back since the Christmas and new year break."

Another local resident, Dawn Bearcroft, said she had come for a test to help protect her family.

"It has come back negative. I have come here for the test just for peace of mind, because my partner and my son are both key workers. My partner has diabetes so it is just peace of mind," she said.

Image caption,
Alton Towers was forced to close in December when the government reintroduced tougher restrictions

In the seven days to 10 January, there were 255 new infections per 100,000 people in the Staffordshire Moorlands district, slightly down from 282.4 the previous week.

People with symptoms or those who have been asked to self-isolate should not attend the session, Staffordshire County Council said.

It is also calling on other big employers in the area to help test the county's workforce.

Alton Towers has up to 100 staff on site currently with more than 1,000 on flexible or full-time furlough but the park will offer them tests when they come to the resort.

Francis Jackson, operations director at the theme park, said: "Alton Towers is very much part of the community we operate in and we want to do everything we can to help keep our staff and the families in our local community safe.

"Last year wasn't a year that any of us want to repeat, but with regular testing we hope to move one step closer to reopening our doors and welcoming visitors back in 2021."

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