In response to the Government’s announcement that the social distancing rule of two metres will be reduced to one metre plus, with cafes able to reopen from the 4 July, James Clark, HTA Director of Policy and Communications said:

"We welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement that social distancing will be reduced in all premises in England, including garden centre cafes and restaurants, from the 4 July. This continues to keep a level of social distancing, but allowing some flexibility for our members. HTA retail members told us that reducing the social distancing guidance to 1m would make garden centre catering much more commercially viable, improving catering sales prospects by 27%, compared with the previous 2m guidance.

"However, we need to see the full guidance from Government on what this 1m plus rule entails in all the different workplace environments our industry operates in. We need to better understand the practical, cost burden and ethical aspects of what the Government is expecting from the industry for collecting catering customers details for test and trace, for example. Pre-booking requirements and customers placing orders via apps are complex and unwanted, given we’re ten days away from the reopening date. We will be following up with Government to seek this urgent clarity for members.

"Ahead of 4 July catering reopening date, we will provide garden centres tailored best practice case studies to help members re-open their catering offering should they wish to do so.

"Devolved Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland now need to follow suit and reduce their social distancing rules to help hard-pressed businesses."

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