HTA asks for Welsh garden centres to remain open

Garden centres should be allowed to remain open under new lockdown rules in Wales, argues the HTA.

Reacting to the First Minister of Wales’ announcement yesterday that Wales will move into a tier 4 lockdown from 24 December, James Clark, director of policy and Communications at the HTA, said: “Action is required to prevent any further increase in coronavirus cases in Wales, but we believe that garden centres should be able to stay open. Including garden centres for closure fails to recognise the contribution they make to improving people’s mental and physical wellbeing. Throughout Wales we have seen a huge uplift in people since the spring taking up gardening. Gardening offers enjoyment, be it in gardens, through house plants, allotments or window boxes.

“Garden centres provide large and airy environments, which have been enhanced by the introduction of first-class social distancing measures. There is no evidence whatsoever that garden centres are COVID transmission risks. The Welsh Government should take a more tailored, rather than blanket approach to what premises to close.

“We want to understand how the Welsh government has come to a conclusion so different to the rest of the UK – even in the highest tiers in England and Scotland, garden centres are able to trade safely.

“For Welsh garden centres and those Welsh growers whose route to market depends on garden centres, going into the key spring season on the back of a long lockdown period will be hugely damaging to their businesses. We are asking for an urgent meeting with Welsh ministers to classify garden centres as ‘essential retail.”

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