Following news that garden centres in England and Scotland can remain open, HTA President Boyd Douglas-Davies has called upon garden centres to work to the highest standards of Covid-19 safe policies and to review everything now before the month long lockdown in England begins or areas in Scotland move into Tier 4.
Boyd told GTN Xtra this morning: "I'm delighted that Westminster has recognised the beneficial part garden centres played in the initial lockdown. The provision of gardening and other products has allowed many millions of people to spend a more fruitful time at home than they would have done without us. This has played a significant part in our continued recognition as an essential sector.
"Throughout this difficult year the horticulture industry has behaved with great integrity and provided a safe environment for staff and customers alike. It is now, more than ever, really important that we continue to work to the highest standards and ensure that our covid safe policies are adhered to. Garden Centres should review everything now and prepare to be very busy over the next month.
The team at the HTA have been brilliant and I thank them all for working so hard on all our behalf. "
Last night James Clark, Director of Policy and Communications at the HTA said: “The announcement to keep garden centres open in England during lockdown is a huge relief and very welcome for members – not only garden centres, but for those in the supply chain. We have been making the case to the Government in England in the last few months and of course today on why garden centres should be classified as ‘essential’ retail in lockdown. Credit to those in Government for this massively significant decision.
"Garden centres offer an airy and open retail environment, providing one of the safest retail environments. It’s important for garden centres to continue to reassert the exemplar social distancing and safe trading measures they have put in place.
"Garden centres staying open will benefit everyone across the country bringing much needed mental and physical benefits as people have to stay at home. It brings some joy at Christmas in these very difficult times for our country. Our sector is an economic driver for the UK - this decision allows us to help the country out of any economic downturn.
"This announcement, alongside the decision in Scotland on Friday, will support our efforts in Wales to make sure garden centres are listed as ‘essential’ for any future lockdown decisions there."
Garden centres to be classed as ‘essential’ in Scottish Tier 4
The Scottish Government has confirmed that Scottish garden centres have been listed as ‘essential retail’ in the Health Protection (Coronavirus)(Restrictions and Requirements)(Local Levels)(Scotland) Regulations 20202 in the event of Tier 4 restrictions being introduced and therefore able to continue trading, with strict social distancing measures in place.
James Clark said: “This decision is hugely significant for the Scottish horticulture industry. It is the culmination of work by the HTA to highlight the importance of horticulture, bringing much needed confidence to the Scottish industry and gardeners across Scotland. It protects the industry and supports wellbeing during any future lockdowns.
"We support the Government’s efforts to control and eliminate COVID. We have always said that the large airy and open infrastructure of garden centres, alongside implementing first class and tailored safe trading measures, provide one of the safest retail environments. Our members will continue to enact these robust and exemplar social distancing actions."