Chelsea have opened the Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge to NHS staff to help the medical response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Blues owner Roman Abramovich has pledged to cover the costs of accommodation for an initial two-month period, with the west London club prepared to give over the whole hotel if required.
The club said the accommodation would help “maintain the health and well-being of these crucial personnel at this critical time”.
“Chelsea Football Club is joining the medical response to the coronavirus outbreak in London with the news the National Health Service (NHS) has accepted the club’s offer to make the Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge available for NHS staff,” the club said in a statement.
“The initiative came from club owner Roman Abramovich and, after contact with the NHS was made by chairman Bruce Buck, it was decided the best way Chelsea can assist the NHS is to provide accommodation for NHS staff. Mr Abramovich will be covering the costs of providing the accommodation.
“Many of the medical staff will be working long shifts and may not be able to travel home or would otherwise have to make long commutes. Local accommodation helps maintain the health and well-being of these crucial personnel at this critical time.”
Chelsea said they would extend the initiative if necessary.
The statement added: “This will be for a two-month period, and then reconsidered in light of circumstances at the time. NHS staff will be those working in hospitals in the North-West London region, but that may extend to hospitals in other districts.
“The number of rooms utilised will depend on demand but potentially all the rooms in the Millennium Hotel could be given over for this purpose. No staff showing symptoms will use the hotel.
“Millennium Hotels and Resorts, who manage the hotel, are supportive and assisting the club in providing this service to the NHS.”
Meanwhile, Callum Hudson-Odoi is making “great progress” in his recovery from coronavirus, according to Chelsea boss Frank Lampard.
The England winger tested positive for Covid-19 last week and Chelsea closed their Cobham training centre on Thursday night.
Chelsea have now partially reopened their Surrey training base, but club staff who had close contact with Hudson-Odoi will continue to self-isolate according to government guidelines.
“I’m happy to say that, in Callum’s case, he has made great progress and almost feels his usual self, which is obviously the news we all want to hear,” said Lampard.
“I am of course aware that not everyone can or will recover from this virus, so I urge all of the football and sporting community to continue to act responsibly and look out for the health of others.
“I want to make it clear that I am no medical expert when it comes to challenging times such as these, but please do take the time to call older relatives and vulnerable people who might be alone, or offer to drop round shopping if they can’t get out. Let’s make sure we all take care of each other.
“Social distancing can leave us feeling isolated. However, we can continue to support each other, even if that means doing it remotely.”
Chelsea’s players have been handed individual training programmes for their self-isolation, with the Premier League shut down until at least April 3.
Blues manager Lampard admitted to struggling to get to grips with sport’s suspension over the weekend, but insisted society’s wider welfare must remain the far greater concern.
“Of course we still don’t know when competitive football will restart, but it isn’t worth worrying about that too much at the moment,” Lampard told Chelsea’s official club website.
“We all miss football, but right now it’s about acting responsibly and in the best interests of society.
“I am sure I wasn’t the only one who found myself in a strange place with no sport this weekend, but ultimately none of that matters when we consider the bigger picture.”