GARDEN centres are preparing to welcome back customers from tomorrow after the Government relaxed its lockdown rules.

After seven weeks of being shut, nurseries and garden centre retailers are allowed to open on Wednesday, May 13 under the latest guidance.

The move is one of the early steps to ease coronavirus lockdown measures but centres must comply with social distancing guidance to ensure customers can keep 2m from each other, and in-store cafes must stay closed.

Among those in York which have been getting ready for business is Dobbies Garden Centre in Upper Poppleton, which has implemented social distancing measures for the safety of staff and customers.

There will be a limited number of customers permitted in store at one time.

A queuing system will be in operation outside, with two metre markers in place to help maintain social distancing.

Hand sanitising and trolley cleaning stations will be available at the entrance.

Protective screens have been installed at tills and customers will be asked to pay with card or contactless, where possible.

Appropriate PPE has been provided for team members, who will also receive training and regular briefings on how to keep themselves and customers safe. Rigorous daily hygiene routines will continue throughout the stores.

Dobbies will offer a takeaway menu including hot and cold drinks, soups, toasties, panini and selected bakery items from Friday, May 15.

Graeme Jenkins, CEO 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 store in York and across England.

“I would like to thank our team members and customers for their understanding during these uncertain times.”

Sue Goodwill, of Primrose Bank nursery on the A1079 near Kexby, said: "We closed when we were supposed. We have been doing local home deliveries since then.

"It has been busy but sales have been dropping each week a little bit as people have got what they want for Spring and summer so we didn't expect to keep it at the level we started.

"We have been posting pictures of plants on our Facebook page and sent out a plant list to people. A lot of elderly customers have been happy to have deliveries."

She said Primrose Bank would re-open on Monday, May 18, from 10am to 4pm from Monday to Friday. 

Then, on Saturdays and Sundays, people will be able to book half-hour appointments by phoning the nursery in advance, to shop on their own, if they are vulnerable or nervous about being among other people.