How did garden centres cope with opening under new lockdown measures?
PUBLISHED: 18:51 13 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:36 14 May 2020
Garden centres across Suffolk and Essex opened their doors for the first time in almost eight weeks as coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased for the first time.
Among the first non-essential businesses to open as part of the second phase of the government’s plans to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, garden centres are allowed to start operating again so the public can remain active in gardens across the country.
However, all shops have had to comply with all ‘Covid-secure’ regulations before opening, including carrying out risk assessments, following cleaning and handwashing procedures and taking steps to let staff and customers remain two metres apart.
Nationwide chains such as Dobbies garden centres have opened several branches, including those in Bury St Edmunds and Woodbridge.
Other independent centres have also started trading again, such as Notcutts in Woodbridge, Cherry Lane garden centres in Long Melford and Carlton Colville, and Perrywood in Tiptree and Sudbury.
At Notcutts, social distancing measures were no problem for staff and customers, who moved through the aisles at safe distances, with staff wearing visors while they worked.
One customer had been looking forward to the reopening more than most – Norma Downing said she felt so happy to be able to go to Notcutts again, as it was her late husband’s favourite place.
Now that Mrs Downing lives alone, she said coming back to the garden centre made her feel close to him.
Elsewhere, Perrywood communications director Hannah Powell said staff and customers at both their garden centres had taken to the new safety measures across their shops quickly and responsibly.
Mrs Powell said: “Our day started at Perrywood Tiptree with a queue of about 30 people eager to get in early.
“Perrywood Sudbury has also had a steady stream of customers.
“Customers seemed to have a good idea of what they wanted – mainly plants and gardening products.
“It will take us a while to adjust to a new way of working. The biggest change is having to limit customer numbers which we may have to do on busier days.
“We are cautiously optimistic but are hoping that some of our customers will wait a few days or longer before making their visit, to enable us to cope.
“Thank you to those who visited and followed our new guidelines, which are necessary to keep people safe.”
Perrywood have also started ordering more plans, due to arrive next week.
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