‘Sensible’ customers maintain social distancing as Otter Garden Centre reopens

A notice reminding visitors to the garden centre to keep their distance and wash their hands. Pictur

A notice reminding visitors to the garden centre to keep their distance and wash their hands. Picture: John Giblin, Otter Garden Centres - Credit: Archant

An Ottery garden centre that reopened last week after lockdown has praised the ‘sensible and careful’ behaviour of its customers.

Widely spaced display stands and a one-way system at the garden centre. Picture: John Giblin, Otter

Widely spaced display stands and a one-way system at the garden centre. Picture: John Giblin, Otter Garden Centres - Credit: Archant

Like many others Otter Garden Centre opened on Wednesday, May 13, with a full set of precautions in place to maintain social distancing.

Managing Director Jacqui Taylor said: “We are delighted that we have been allowed to open.

“We have put the safety of our customers and colleagues as the top priority during this difficult time of trading as we all get used to the new systems and ways of working.

“So far, customers have shopped very sensibly and carefully - and have praised us on the safety measures we’ve put in place to ensure we are not overcrowded and that everyone can shop with space around them.

Customers are being kept at a safe distance from staff, and one another. Picture: John Giblin, Otter

Customers are being kept at a safe distance from staff, and one another. Picture: John Giblin, Otter Garden Centres - Credit: Archant


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“Gardeners are telling us that they are overjoyed to now be able to buy summer plants, compost and even garden furniture so they can really enjoy their garden during the lovely weather.

“It is so good for mental health and wellbeing, helping those lucky enough to have a garden to feel more comfortable about being at home for long periods of time.”

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The garden centre is limiting customer numbers, with people being asked to queue outside during busy times. There are two-metre markers in the retail area and a one-way system to keep customers spread apart. Groups of more than two people are not allowed in together.

There is hand sanitiser available for customers’ use, and cleaning facilities for trolleys and baskets.

The number of tills has been reduced, and they all have Perspex protection screens. Staff are wearing PPE, and contactless payment is encouraged.

The coffee shop remains closed, in keeping with government guidance.

While Otter Garden Centre was closed for lockdown, staff continued taking telephone orders for seeds by mail order.

Demand for the seeds soared as people spent more time in their gardens; some were growing flowers or vegetables for the first time, and staff were able to give them advice.

They also sold large amounts of ‘easy to grow’ seeds for keeping children entertained.

Read more about how local garden centres were coping with lockdown here:

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