The First Minister Scotland announced yesterday that current restrictions on garden centres would not be lifted this week in Scotland, James Barnes, Chairman of the HTA said:
“While we understand the Scottish Government’s medical rationale for not amending the current restrictions, we are disappointed to see a twin approach, which will confuse the public and will put the Scottish horticulture industry at a disadvantage to the rest of the UK.
“We have sought urgent talks with the Scottish Government to understand how garden centres can reopen as soon as is safely possible. It is important to have a date established so garden centres can adequately prepare and help staff back to work.
“The HTA has established a Safe Trading Guidance document for garden centres to follow to ensure a safe and managed reopening procedure. The illogicality of some retail outlets being able to sell plants while garden centres have to stay closed in Scotland is hugely frustrating for Scottish gardeners and our members alike. For example, Klondyke Garden Centres based near Falkirk will not be allowed to open but also has premises south of the border, while Dobbies is the largest garden centre operator in the UK, and following this announcement its Edinburgh head office will remain closed, while its English stores will be allowed to open. That is not a sustainable proposition.
“We have repeatedly highlighted to both Westminster and Holyrood the plight of the UK horticultural sector and that opening garden centres would be part of solution to preventing up to a third of the nursery sector becoming insolvent.
“We welcome Westminster’s announcement today that garden centres will be allowed to reopen in England from Wednesday. We are in peak season, when 70% of plants sold are between March and June. This is not only a positive economic move but gardening benefits the mental health and well-being of so many people isolating at home and the importance of having something to do at home keeps you at home.”
Safe Trading Guidance
The HTA has produced a Safe Trading Guidance which includes a series of recommendations to protect customers.
The guidance document has been based on insight from leading HTA retailers, the British Retail Consortium, and from government advice as a recommendation of best practice regarding social distancing. Cafes, restaurants and children’s play areas will not be allowed to reopen under the guidelines.
Recommendations include advice on customer numbers in stores, entrance and exit protocols, and queueing and checkout procedures. It also contains practical advice on how to protect the health and wellbeing of staff.
What customers can expect if garden centres in Scotland are allowed to open.
- controlled access to car parks
- limits on customer numbers in store – the recommendation is 1 per 1000 square foot
- customers will be asked to shop with a maximum of one other person if possible and will be required to keep 2m distancing throughout the store and whilst queueing.
- cafes, restaurants and children’s play areas will not be allowed to reopen under the guidelines.
The HTA recently launched a website – plantsnearme.hta.org.uk – to help customers find local garden centres that are offering home delivery or click and collect services. Members of the public will now be able to use the website to see which businesses have reopened in England and Wales next week and are following the Safe Trading Guidance.