Coronavirus: Milton Keynes ice rink to be converted to makeshift mortuary

31 March 2020, 20:46

The Planet Ice facility is due to stay open to keep it the same temperature as an operating morgue
The Planet Ice facility is due to stay open to keep it the same temperature as an operating morgue. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

An ice rink in Milton Keynes is being converted into a makeshift mortuary to help cope with the rising number of coronavirus-related deaths.

The work at Planet Ice in South Row is expected to take "a matter of days" and could hold bodies "in the hundreds", according to Milton Keynes Council leader Peter Marland.

He said the venue would also remain open in the meantime to make sure it is the same cool temperature necessary for a morgue.

In the UK, a total of 25,150 people have tested positive for Covid-19, while 1,801 people have died.

For all the latest updates on coronavirus, follow our live blog

"We have been planning for a while around capacity as we picked up quite early that it could be an issue for us," Mr Marland added.

"We only have one crematorium and the next nearest one is in Wing.

"If the worst is to happen, we wanted to make sure that that person and their family had as much dignity as possible."

70-year-old Coronavirus survivor says people who don’t follow the government‘s advice are ‘daft’

Meanwhile, a Milton Keynes Council spokesman said the conversion was part of "sensible planning" in the case of funeral directors being "unable to cope with a rise in deaths from Covid-19."

He added: "We're working with the owners of Planet Ice to ready the rink as a precaution should it be needed to support local operations.

READ MORE: Pregnant prisoners to be given temporary release to self-isolate

"Part of Elder Gate and a short section of Avebury Boulevard will be closed temporarily to facilitate this.

"The supermarket access is unaffected."

It comes just days after Birmingham Airport announced it was working to provide land and a hangar to serve as a temporary morgue during the pandemic.

READ MORE: Schools donate protective lab gear to frontline NHS workers

It said: "The mortuary is anticipated to accommodate the deceased from across the region, including those not related to coronavirus.

"Birmingham Airport will do its utmost to support this multi-agency response during these difficult times."

In Northern Ireland, a soon-to-be-decommissioned army base in County Down is also prepared to be used as a makeshift morgue if facilities become overwhelmed.