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Contrary to press reports that the government was being charged rent for the use of the London Excel Exhibition Centre, the commercial landlord owners have denied this, putting out a statement over the week-end that the Centre was being provided rent-free.

The NHS Nightingale Hospital London is the first of the NHS Nightingale Hospitals, temporary hospitals set-up or due to be set up by NHS England to help to deal with the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in England. Prince Charles opened the 500 patient hospital via video link on Friday. It could yet be expanded to a capacity of 4,000 patients.

The Abu Dhabi based owners of London’s ExCel conference centre are not charging Britain’s health service for using it as a temporary hospital. The facility is providing thousands of extra beds for the coronavirus epidemic, the site’s chief executive said on Sunday.

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The ExCeL (Exhibition Centre London) is an international exhibition and convention centre in the Custom House area of Newham, East London. The site sits on the northern quay of the Royal Victoria Dock in London Docklands, between Canary Wharf and London City Airport.

A report in the Sunday Times, and repeated in news broadcasts, citing industry sources, had said that the owners, The Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (Adnec), was charging the National Health Service (NHS) 2 million to 3 million pounds a month.

However, Jeremy ReesExCel, ExCel chief executive said in his statement:

“The use of ExCeL London for NHS Nightingale London has always been provided to the NHS rent free,”

“We joined the national effort to combat coronavirus immediately, and worked in close partnership with the NHS to ensure this hospital could be up and running in a matter of days.”

He also said that the initial agreement with the NHS included a contribution to some operational fixed costs but “We have since decided to cover the operational costs ourselves.”

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