The UK has been in lockdown for more than five weeks and many are already going a little stir-crazy. Those lucky enough to have a garden or some outside space have used their time potting new plants or tending to existing ones – but what about those of us who weren’t already green fingered before lockdown started.
If you were hoping to take a visit to a garden centre, unfortunately you’ve been out of luck so far during lockdown.
While DIY stores such as B&Q and Homebase have remained open, garden centres and nurseries were forced to close their doors.
With their shutters down, many garden centres have taken their products online.
But for those of you without internet access, or who just like to browse before selecting your plants to spruce up your garden, shopping online just isn’t the answer.
When will garden centres reopen?
It was hoped they would be open in time for the first May bank holiday.
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Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they’ll be reopened any time soon.
First Secretary of State Dominic Raab said opening them “would risk damage to the public health, our economy, and frankly the progress that we’ve made”.
However, there is still a hope they could be reopened soon enough.
Tory MPs Mark Pritchard and Sir Desmond Swayne have asked Mr Raab if garden centres under nurseries would be allowed to reopen under the next phase of the lockdown.
Following Mr Pritchard’s question, Mr Raab replied: “I understand entirely why it’s so important both economically, but also socially, particularly for certain members of our community … for whom it will be an important means of getting outdoors and getting out of the lockdown.
“SAGE has already considered it once, I know it will consider garden centres and nurseries again, and I know he will expect us to continue to be guided by the evidence.
“But he has made his point in a powerful way and it’s certainly very firmly registered that this is an important area for us to look at for the future.”
Ministers say they will keep the reopening of garden centres “under close review” but the Foreign Secretary can offer no “concrete proposals”.
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Mr Raab added the current advice from SAGE is that “relaxing any of those measures – including the ones he refers to – would risk damage to the public health, our economy, and frankly the progress we’ve made, the sacrifices so many have made, the lives that have been lost”.
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But he also added: “They looked specifically at garden centres and we will continue, as I’ve indicated earlier, to keep the evidence on each individual measure under very close review.”
The comments come as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer warned the UK could be “falling behind other countries” if the Government does not publish a lockdown exit strategy.
Sir Keir said a continuing delay to the lockdown measures, which were introduced more than five weeks ago, also risks splitting the four-nation approach of the UK as a whole to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, New Zealand and Australia had found “common issues” over the reopening of schools and some business sectors.
Boris Johnson ha not fronted a daily coronavirus briefing for a month after contracting COVID-19.
Tonight, he will take to the podium once more – but is not expected to lift the lockdown just yet.
The Prime Minister is expected to say that it is still too high risk to ease up on restrictions just yet while infection rates are falling well.
A senior No10 source said: “He’ll talk about the progress we’ve made so far in slowing the spread of the virus, and how we won’t do anything that might risk a return to exponential growth”.
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