Call for ‘visible’ route out of lockdown in Scotland

The Scottish Retail Consortium highlighted plans to reopen garden centres in England and Wales.

Lockdown: Garden centres to reopen in England and Wales. Getty Images
Lockdown: Garden centres to reopen in England and Wales.

A leading retail body has called for greater “visibility” of Scotland’s route out of lockdown after it was announced garden centres will reopen in England and Wales.

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said shops that have been able to stay open have already shown it is “possible to operate safely and responsibly” within the social distancing guidelines.

The organisation estimates at least £9m has been spent in Scotland by retailers to make their premises safe amid the Covid-19 pandemic, such as through plexiglass screens, signage and floor markings.

Along with the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW), the SRC has published detailed guidance for retailers on implementing social distancing in-store.

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It comes as the Welsh Government announced garden centres would reopen on Monday, while the same will happen in England from Wednesday.

No such announcement has been made by the Scottish Government, although officials have published two papers recently on how measures might be eased.

The most recent report said retail firms – along with those in the construction and manufacturing sectors – would be prioritised once the Scottish economy starts to reopen.

It also said outdoor-based and rural companies could reopen quicker thanks to lower risks of transmission than in indoor premises.

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SRC director David Lonsdale said: “Our members in pharmacy, pet food, and grocery retailing have shown during the coronavirus crisis that it is possible to operate safely and responsibly in this new environment, regardless of the size of premises.

“They’ve invested significantly over a short period in social distancing and other hygiene measures in order to protect staff and customers.

“Drawing on that experience, SRC and trade union USDAW have provided non-essential retailers with detailed guidance, putting them in the best possible position to operate safely once government permits trading again. 

“What is needed now in Scotland is visibility on the route out of lockdown, as has been published in Ireland.”

The four governments of the UK say different parts of the country may ease lockdown restrictions at a different pace depending on need.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she will not be “pressurised” into lifting measures too early amid a belief Scotland is not as far along the coronavirus infection curve as other UK nations.

However, she also indicated some measures could be eased this weekend concerning the amount of daily exercise people are allowed – currently one session of no more than one hour a day.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to address the nation on Sunday regarding the lockdown.