Boss of popular pub-restaurant group offers to return Chancellor’s £250K grant if his venues are used as vaccination centres to speed up roll-out

Oakman Inns runs 28 pub-restaurants across Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and beyond

The Chief Executive of pub and restaurant group, Oakman Inns is offering to forego The Chancellor’s latest lockdown grant of up to £250,000 if he allows National Health Trusts to use Oakman Inns’ venues as vaccination centres.

Under the business grants scheme outlined by Rishi Sunak yesterday (Wednesday), Oakman Inns would have received more than £250,000 during the next four months, but Dermot King is ready to give that back to the Government to help pay for a bigger and quicker vaccination roll-out.

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.

Dermot King, CEO Oakman Inns

"The entire hospitality industry is desperate to re-open as quickly as possible before we have huge scale redundancies across the sector."

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

Oakman Inns has 28 properties across Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, and beyond, and like many pubs and restaurants, they have large refrigeration areas to help with storage and are COVID-19 safe.

King added: “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 yesterday 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.”

OAKMAN RUNS THE FOLLOWING VENUES IN OUR AREAS:

Bedfordshire

> White Hart, Ampthill

Buckinghamshire

> Beech House, Amersham

> Beech House, Beaconsfield

> Cherry Tree, Olney

> The Akeman Inn, Kingswood

> Betsey Wynne, Swanbourne

> The Polecat Inn, Prestwood

Hertfordshire

> King’s Arms, Berkhamsted

> Banyers House, Royston

> Beech House, St Albans

> The Red Lion, Water End

> The Akeman, Tring

Northamptonshire

> The Navigation at Thrupp Wharf, Cosgrove

Oxfordshire

> The Crown & Thistle, Abingdon

> The Old Post Office, Wallingford

> Blue Boar, Witney

Warwickshire

> The Globe, Warwick

> The Four Alls, Welford-on-Avon