Search

How did garden centres cope with opening under new lockdown measures?

PUBLISHED: 18:51 13 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:36 14 May 2020

Notcutts Garden Centre in Woodbridge reopened its doors to customers on May 13 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Notcutts Garden Centre in Woodbridge reopened its doors to customers on May 13 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

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.

New social distancing measures have been put in place around garden centres across Suffolk and north Essex Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNew social distancing measures have been put in place around garden centres across Suffolk and north Essex Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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.

Customers wore masks as garden centres were allowed to reopen on Wednesday Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCustomers wore masks as garden centres were allowed to reopen on Wednesday Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Nationwide chains such as Dobbies garden centres have opened several branches, including those in Bury St Edmunds and Woodbridge.

General Manager of Notcutts, Darren Brooks Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGeneral Manager of Notcutts, Darren Brooks Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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.

Guidelines regarding protective masks in enclosed public spaces came into effect in the UK today Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGuidelines regarding protective masks in enclosed public spaces came into effect in the UK today Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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.

Stephy Griffiths was thrilled to be able to shop at Notcutts again Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNStephy Griffiths was thrilled to be able to shop at Notcutts again Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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.

A staff member at Notcutts in Woodbridge wears PPE as part of the centre's 'Covid-secure' regulations Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNA staff member at Notcutts in Woodbridge wears PPE as part of the centre's 'Covid-secure' regulations Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mrs Powell said: “Our day started at Perrywood Tiptree with a queue of about 30 people eager to get in early.

Norma Downing was glad to be back at Notcutts as it was her late husband's favourite place to visit Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNorma Downing was glad to be back at Notcutts as it was her late husband's favourite place to visit Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“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.

There were staff monitoring the number of customers entering Notcutts in Woodbridge when it reopened on May 13 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThere were staff monitoring the number of customers entering Notcutts in Woodbridge when it reopened on May 13 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“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.

Perrywood customers were able to pick up plants for the first time since March Picture: DANIEL JONES PHOTOGRAPHYPerrywood customers were able to pick up plants for the first time since March Picture: DANIEL JONES PHOTOGRAPHY

“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.”

Clear signage and instructions were visible across PerryWood Tiptree, Essex Picture: DANIEL JONES PHOTOGRAPHYClear signage and instructions were visible across PerryWood Tiptree, Essex Picture: DANIEL JONES PHOTOGRAPHY

Perrywood have also started ordering more plans, due to arrive next week.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East Anglian Daily Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the East Anglian Daily Times