As restaurants on garden centres are closed in an effort to contain the Coronavirus, HTA chairman James Barnes writes to members promising HTA support and announcing a weekly survey on trading.
The Chancellor of Exchequer’ most recent Coronavirus announcement means:
- All cafes and restaurants have been closed – takeaways are possible
- A Coronavirus job retention scheme – employers can keep employees not currently working by contacting HMRC, who will pay 80% of wages up to £2,500 a month, backdated to 1 March. To be “up and running within weeks”.
- No business will pay VAT between now and June.
- For self-employed, the minimum income floor is to be abolished – the self-employed can access universal credit. Next self-assessment will be deferred until 2021
The HTA has written to the Chancellor
The HTA has written to the Chancellor, Defra and other Government departments emphasising that gardening plays an important health and wellbeing role in supporting a self-isolation and home-based regime in line with the Government’s public health approach.
It highlighted that many garden centres provide essential community services through farm shops/food halls and GYO and garden products.
Weekly survey on current trading
Members are being asked to contribute to a survey on current trading. Having the latest data is crucial for The HTA as it presses the sector’s case with Government.
The results so far reiterate the current anxieties and some of the financial and business actions that members are taking, such as seeking recruitment freezes and bank loans.
Garden centres' response
Dobbies says it has temporarily closed restaurants and coffee shops with effect from 20th March 2020. This includes closure of soft play facilities and also the cancellation of planned events. All of the group's stores remain open and the group continues to focus on offering the best possible service.
Blue Diamond tells customers ‘our Garden Centres remain open as usual. Unfortunately, our cafes and restaurants are now closed, as well as our indoor play areas, in line with current government advice.
‘A takeaway service will operate from today from our restaurants for you to enjoy in our centres.’