Principality Stadium: Contract extended for coronavirus field hospital – BBC South East Wales

Principality Stadium is one of 19 Welsh field hospitals providing more than 6,000 beds

Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies says the contract for the Principality Stadium to remain as a field hospital has been extended until early autumn.

The Dragon’s Heart Hospital was created to help ease pressure on the NHS amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The contract initially ran until 10 July but the deal has been extended until at least September.

With 1,500 beds, the hospital first accepted patients on 29 April.

The WRU is renting the stadium to Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, with the temporary hospital, originally designed for 2,000 beds, serving as an overflow for Wales’ largest hospital, Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales.

After discussions between the Welsh Rugby Union, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Welsh Government no definite end date has been set for the new contract.

“There were discussions last week where the initial current contract runs until July 10,” said Davies.

“We agreed with the National Health Service and Welsh Government that the contract would be extended until the early autumn, although the exact details have to be agreed to safeguard against any further uprising in the pandemic.

“If there is still a demand for the hospital later in the year, there is not the likelihood of (rugby) taking place there because we are not going to be out of the woods.

“By working with the health board in having this very important standby facility, we would like to think by the end of July we would be in a clearer position (as) to how the virus is spreading or how it has been eradicated to a point.”

The Principality Stadium is being turned into Wales’ biggest hospital

Wales are due to host New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji and Argentina in November, and it could be that those games are played behind closed doors.

Davies admitted Wales were looking at contingency plans if those games went ahead and could not be held at the Principality Stadium.

Regional grounds Parc y Scarlets, Cardiff Arms Park, Rodney Parade and Liberty Stadium are all currently acting as field hospitals, testing centres or welfare centres in coronavirus battle and would have to be free for November to be considered.

“The likelihood is there won’t be any huge mass gatherings,” said Davies.

“We will discuss it with rugby grounds and there is an obvious ground down west in Llanelli, with Scarlets one of the four Welsh regions.

“The Liberty Stadium and Cardiff City Stadium could be other options. There will be choices and there are logistical challenges with multi-sport venues.

“Those tentative discussions are in place. It is an incredible situation. In your working life you always come up against challenges but there is normally a clear way through.

“This issue sadly has no ending because there are so many variables and unknowns.”

Wales used Wembley as their temporary home in 1997 to 1999, when the then Millennium Stadium was being built. Bristol’s Ashton Gate is a closer venue outside Wales, but Davies says Wales are unlikely to look outside England this time around.

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“I would prefer to (play in Wales), especially if you are talking about playing behind closed doors where you are not going to maximise the attendances,” he said.

“That was one of the reasons for going to Wembley all those years ago, but it would not be relevant in this case.”

Wales are still waiting for news on whether the summer tour of Japan and New Zealand will be rearranged later in the year, while Davies is hopeful there can be Welsh derbies in late August when the Pro14 is planning to return.

“That would be the obvious route back in terms of confining it to territories,” said Davies.

“It would ease the point of travelling and it fits in with different government policies.”

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