Free parking and shuttle bus for jabs at SSE arena

Free parking and shuttle bus for jabs at SSE arena

31 March 2021

AS the coronavirus vaccination programme is ramped up with the opening of a major centre for people to get their jab in Belfast, transport advice has been issued for local people who have to make their way to the SSE arena.

Normally a venue for high profile music concerts and sports events, the SSE has been transformed into a mass vaccination centre which is being run by the South Eastern Trust.

It is anticipated that 11,000 people will be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of this week with that number ramped up to 20,000 the following week ahead of plans to vaccinate 40,000 people weekly from then onwards.

Many local people who have had their first jab at the Ulster Hospital will be making their way to the SSE for their second jab as vaccinations at the Dundonald site are due to end in early May.

Covid-19 vaccinations are also being rolled out at community pharmacies across Northern Ireland with those who are eligible able to book an appointment online by phone on 0300 200 7813 or they may be contacted by their GP.

Vaccines are slowly breaking the chain from positive case to hospitalisation to severe disease and death with health chiefs confident that opening the SSE offers a massive opportunity to step up the vaccination programme even further and marking a significant step for the health service, allowing hospitals and GP surgeries to get back to normal.

Health officials have confirmed that they plan to operate the vaccination service at the Belfast venue up to 14 hours a day, seven days a week, with free car parking and shuttle bus services offered to those travelling to the arena for their jab.

To facilitate the tens of thousands of people who will be making their way to the SSE, Stormont roads minister Nichola Mallon has activated a transport plan to assist the vaccination programme.

Charging at car parks on the north and east side of Belfast will be suspended, while Translink is running a free shuttle-bus service from those car-parks and others across the city to ensure people travelling for a vaccination are able to do so in a safely. 

Mrs Mallon said the SSE will be one of the busiest vaccination centres with the capacity to vaccinate up to 40,000 people per week in a part of Belfast which will see increased levels of traffic in an area where there is limited parking. 

“My officials along with Translink, the PSNI and the South Eastern Trust are implementing a traffic management plan to ensure the free flow of traffic to facilitate an effective and efficient distribution of the vaccine to those who have booked appointments,” she revealed.

“This plan includes free car parking at a number of sites across the city and a shuttle bus service to the SSE. I would ask those travelling to the arena for vaccines to use the free bus service to get to the centre.”

In addition, the roads minister is also reminding people travelling on public transport that face coverings must be worn by all passengers and social distancing practices observed.

Free bus shuttles to the SSE will run from the Europa Buscentre every 15 minutes from 7.45am until 8.15pm, with free shuttles from the northside park and ride every 10 minutes from 7.40am until 8.20pm. 

G2 Glider services will operate every 15-minutes from the city centre while it is a short walk from the Titanic Quarter station to the SSE, while car parks within the city centre can be used for park and walk or to use the free shuttle service from Europa Buscentre.

The opening of the mass vaccination centre has been welcomed by the First and Deputy First Ministers who visited the SSE on Monday along with health minister Robin Swann.

Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill say the new centre is another step on the pathway to a better and safer future.

Mr Swann said huge inroads have been made in delivering the vaccination to over half of the adult population in Northern Ireland.  

“The opening of this centre will enable the programme to expand at an even quicker rate and I hope to announce very soon that I will be opening the programme to additional age cohorts to allow more of those eligible to book their vaccination,” he added.

People wanting to book a vaccination centre appointment are asked to do so online if it all possible at The telephone booking number is 0300 200 7813 with those eligible also having the option of waiting for their GP to contact them to arrange their jab.