Garden centres in Suffolk prepare for reopening - but what will change?
- Credit: Picture: NOTCUTTS GARDEN CENTRES
Suffolk’s garden centres are set to re-open their doors for the first time in weeks, following the Government’s latest changes to lockdown.
The re-opening of garden centres was one of many measures announced by the government as it looks to ease lockdown across the UK.
From Wednesday, the stores will be able to re-open to the public but with social distancing measures now essential, many are having to adapt their premises.
Laurel Farm Garden Centre
Sam Sainty, manager at Laurel Farm Garden Centre in Ipswich, said the situation had been a little different for them, as their farm shop had allowed them to stay open.
Miss Sainty said: “We have been open all the way through it.
“We have had a one way system and we have had someone on the door saying ‘no, we are full’.”
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Miss Sainty said that these measures would remain in place once the centre opened fully on Thursday, with Perspex glass having gone up at tills and staff also wearing protective equipment to stay safe.
Though the centre had closed briefly at the start of lockdown, Miss Sainty said that it members of the public had been grateful that they had been able to remain open.
“It’s been hard for us,” said Miss Sainty.
“We have been doing 30 to 40 deliveries a day and food hampers. We have done a great service.”
Miss Sainty said they were pleased to see that other garden centres locally would be able to open, which would take some pressure off staff at Laurel Farm and hoped that they would be able to re-open their cafe soon.
Dobbies Garden Centres will reopen its 54 English stores on Wednesday, May 13, including two Suffolk stores at Bury St Edmunds and Woodbridge.
The chain has introduced a number of social distancing measures, including limiting the number of customers allowed in store and introducing a queueing system with two metre markers outside.
Hand sanitising and trolley cleaning stations will be available at all store entrances.
Protective screens have been installed at tills and customers will be asked to pay with card or contactless, where possible.
Staff will also be wearing PPE on site.
The restaurant will remain closed, although some takeaway food items will be served from Friday, May 15.
Graeme Jenkins, chief executive of Dobbies, said: “We have taken care to ensure we are following guidance provided by the government, British Retail Consortium and Horticultural Trade Association to reopen responsibly.
“Our team is well-prepared, social distancing measures are in place and we look forward to welcoming customers back into our stores in Suffolk and across England.
“I would like to thank our team members and customers for their understanding during these uncertain times.”
Tattingstone Garden Centre
Lorraine Plumbly, who owns Tattingstone Garden Centre with her husband, said that they too welcomed the news and said while their store had remained open, she hoped that the government announcement would make things easier for them.
“The biggest problem has been getting stock,” said Mrs Plumbly.
Mrs Plumbly said that as a smaller garden centre, social distancing wasn’t so much of a problem with staff allowing just one customer in at a time to get what they need.
Mrs Plumbly said that garden centres were providing an important service for people.
“We need some sort of normality,” said Mrs Plumbly.
“People who can’t back to work need something to do.”
Woodbridge-based Notcutts will also be opening stores from Wednesday.
“We are looking forward to welcoming you back into our garden centres on Wednesday, May 13 following the announcement from the government that we are now permitted to re-open,” said chief executive Nick Burrows.
“Our restaurants however remain closed at this time.”
Notcutts will also be limiting the amount of customers in the store at any one time and implementing a queueing system - but also asked that people not visit in large groups.
“We have introduced screens at the tills and colleagues will be wearing face visors, face masks and gloves where appropriate,” said Mr Burrows.
“For hygiene purposes we are asking colleagues and customers to regularly wash their hands and we are providing trolley and basket sanitisation points.
“We would also ask that you pay with contactless card options where possible and that you hold your Privilege Club card for our colleagues to scan.”
The stores will be opening for shorter hours to begin with as well.
“We hope that we can help you enjoy your gardens and the wellbeing benefits that plants and nature can bring,” said Mr Burrows.
Cherry Lane Garden Centres
Cherry Lane Garden Centres, which has stores in Carlton Colville and Long Melford, said it was delighted to be back and was now ready for customers to return.