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  • Oliver Hodgson

Green shoots of recovery for the horticultural sector - MP welcomes re-opening of garden centres

Trudy Harrison at Boonwood Garden Centre PHOTO: Oliver Hodgson

As a strong advocate of gardening for well-being, Copeland MP Trudy Harrison has welcomed the reopening of the area’s garden centres.

All garden centres that are reopening to the public are in the process of setting up social distancing guides, as well as cleaning and protective measures for both staff and customers.

To help put in place appropriate measures, the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has also produced Safe Trading Guidance, closely aligned to the Government’s guidance and specifically for garden centres, which includes a series of recommendations to protect customers.

Mrs Harrison, said: “The way in which our local garden centres have been able to adapt during the pandemic has been commendable, offering delivery services to their vulnerable and regular customers that have not been allowed to visit.  Gardening has played a significant role in keeping people occupied whilst staying safe at home, as well as bringing pleasure at a time when leisure activities have not been permitted.  

“Visiting my local garden centre this week, I was able to see for myself the swift action that has been taken to enable shoppers to browse safely, whilst protecting the health and wellbeing of staff.

“In line with government and the Horticultural Trades Association’s advice, the protocols in place include queueing 2 meters apart and appropriate checkout procedures, allowing my constituents to regain a sense of normality.

“This announcement is also incredibly welcome for the horticultural sector in my constituency. Plant suppliers such as Blomfield's and Colour Gro have missed a huge part of their market this year, these key months were normally their busiest, now they are facing losses that will not be recovered.”

Customers should ensure that people can stay 2m apart wherever possible, as is already the case in supermarkets and other shops which have remained open in recent weeks.

Biosecurity Minister, Lord Gardiner said: “We know that this time of year is crucial for the horticulture industry and are very aware of the impacts of coronavirus on the sector.

“Our decision to reopen garden centres and nurseries in a safe way will allow businesses to sell their products directly to the public and in doing so bringing about wider benefits to consumers, especially for physical and mental wellbeing, which gardening can bring.

“It is vital all garden centres implement strict social distancing and I urge businesses to use the Government’s extensive guidance and the Horticultural Trades Association’s Safe Trading Guidance when planning their reopening.”

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