Home Comment Coronavirus: Garden centres reopen – will you go?

Coronavirus: Garden centres reopen – will you go?

Is that pot REALLY an essential item?
Is that pot REALLY an essential item?

There are more cons than pros for me – put common sense before boredom

Now that garden centres are allowed to reopen today due to changing Government advice (Wednesday, May 13), how do you feel about it?

I have to admit, I have very mixed feelings about the situation.

Pros of reopening

From a purely business perspective, this will be a much-needed boost to our horticultural industry and hopefully will save some jobs.

If I run out of compost, I will be able to buy it locally at my nearest supplier, Dobbies in Birtley, Gateshead. It could be argued, if I want to get out, it is somewhere to go.

Cons of reopening

But that’s the problem – I don’t want to get out. I find shopping once a week at the supermarket a trial and it makes me extremely anxious.

I worry about whether workers at garden centres will have pressure put on them to return, or feel they will have to safeguard their jobs in the future.

Will they have sufficient safety equipment so they are not put at an increased risk of catching the virus?

Keep your distance!
Keep your distance!

While the pandemic has brought out the best in the vast majority of people, there is a significant number of utterly selfish and stupid individuals who think ‘it won’t happen to me’ and will take this opportunity to go for afternoons out, like they did before all this started.

Garden centres, as we all know, are magnets for the retired – the very people who will be hardest hit if they don’t stay at home.

I lost my mother in January, just as the pandemic was taking off. One of the things on her death certificate was pneumonia. She also had a virus/infection that couldn’t be treated. Read into that what you will. I don’t want anyone else to go through what I have had to needlessly – just for a ‘run out’.

Think twice before you visit

For that reason alone I would beg people to think twice before swamping your local garden centre. Stores are only letting in a limited number of customers due to social distancing rules and you’ll have to queue outside at 2m intervals.

There won’t be as many people working – some ill, some in isolation and some caring for children or relatives, so bear them in mind.

If your local garden centre offers delivery or click and collect, that’s a much safer option all round.

It’s all very well reading the Government’s dossier of health and safety guidelines but there are many variables at play here and new information is coming to light on a daily basis.

I don’t doubt everyone wants to ‘get back to normal’ – but now we have to live with a new normal. If you intend to go just for a wander around without buying anything specific that you need, I suggest you go for a walk outside, where you won’t be putting yourself, or others, at risk.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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