Following on from publishing the Groves – We Are Here For You – story in GTN Xtra last week (by far the most read story of the issue) GTN Xtra received the following statement from Derek Bunker about the response to his COVID-19 update and his views on garden centres staying open during lockdown 3.
Derek told GTN Xtra: “We posted this message on our website on the 4th of January:
Obviously, we are so pleased that we have been allowed to continue to remain open however, we would ask you to please make sure that you always wear a mask whilst in the garden centre. If you are exempt, please bring proof of exemption and show us. We are aware that in law you do not have to show us but if you are not willing to do this then we are sorry, but we will not allow you in. This decision has been made to protect our staff from anyone claiming to be exempt when they are not.
We have checked out this decision and we are within our rights to implement this procedure.
We look forward to seeing you and please be assured our garden centre is as COVID safe as we can make it.
“The response we have had has been amazing and very heart warming. Comments such as "wish more businesses would follow suit", "thank you very much for what you're doing" and many, many more messages of congratulations on the stance that we've taken.
“The government has put garden centres in the essential class. Let's be sensible, this is not because you need to buy compost seeds, plants, etc. at this time of year. This is more for mental health than anything else. It is to give members of the public somewhere that is fairly safe so that they can get growing as soon as the weather improves.
“Are the centres that are choosing to stay shut, therefore, sending out the wrong message. If you were happy to be open throughout the previous lockdown when you were selling Christmas, are you not sending out a message that whilst it is quiet, you are going to close to save money?
“It is up to individual centres to choose what they wish to do. But after all the hard work that the HTA and the GCA have put in to allow us to open, I feel we should respect that.
“Are those that are closed now going to stay closed until the restrictions are altered, maybe not until March or April?”