Last week Boris Johnson announced that certain businesses and venues were to shut due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, in order to reduce social contact and the spread of Covid-19.
But can gardeners continue to work? Here’s what you need to know.
Can gardeners still work?
At the moment, gardeners can continue to work, but only if it is safe to do so and where they can maintain social distancing.
Social distancing measures are steps that you can take in order to reduce social interaction between people, including staying two metres apart from people when at the supermarket or at the pharmacy for example. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The guidance for gardeners is clearer in Scotland, with Gov.scot explaining: “We know that for some – self-employed gardeners, window cleaners, or those working in rural areas – where there is no contact – if you can practise safely, then this could be good for the community, but safety and social distancing must come first.”
With regards to those working alone and providing community services such as gardeners or window cleaners, Scotland’s First minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "If they can go about their business safely this can be good for the community and we would encourage them to do so.”
Elsewhere in the UK, although gardeners have not been identified as 'key workers', the UK government has said: "Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the trades-person is well and has no symptoms.
“Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a two-metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.”
“No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so.”
However, no work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild they may be.
Public Health England will be able provide advice to tradespeople and households.
Some gardeners may also be opting only to take jobs where they can access gardens with side access, those without client contact or those within walking distance that will not require the use of public transport.
Agricultural supplies shops also currently remain open.
What are the alternatives for gardeners?
While the lockdown is in place, some professional gardeners are also opting to deliver online garden design advice and courses rather than visiting properties.
Garden design meetings via video calls, allow clients to take designers on a virtual tour of their gardens.
Gardeners may also hold online courses for those who want to learn more about growing vegetables, fruit and herbs.
Can I visit my garden or allotment?
Doctor and Broadcaster Amir Khan, told BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine: “It’s still perfectly safe (and recommended) that you go out into your gardens and allotments for both the health of your mind and body.”
Although it’s worth checking with your local council, Salford City Council says that those with an allotment, “are still permitted to visit your plot to take daily exercise in line with government regulation,” but is warning people to follow this guidance:
- Daily exercise does not mean spending the whole day on the plot, it is recommended that you visit for a short period of time
- It is important that any plot-holders over 70 years and those with underlying health issues follow the guidance and information issued by the government
- Any plot-holder who is self isolating because a household member is ill with coronavirus must not be visiting the site
- It is important that anyone attending the allotment takes care to stay the appropriate distance from others, avoid body contact and wash hands
- It is essential that no unauthorised people are allowed onto the plots for the duration of this emergency.”
Salford City Council also advise that allotment members should take the following precautionary measures:
- Keep hand sanitiser in your shed and wash your hands regularly
- Use hand sanitiser before opening and closing any gate locks
- Observe 'social distancing' with each other two to three metres
- Do not share tools
- Minimise contact with each other for example no handshakes
For those who may have animals such as chickens on the allotment, Salford City Council also adds: “If you have livestock on the site and the restrictions become more severe, take a photograph on your phone of your livestock, based on what is happening in other countries you may have to print off a government form to leave the house but if challenged it would be good to be able to show a photograph of where you are going.”
“All communal facilities such as toilets and community rooms are closed.
“If you display any symptoms of coronavirus stay at home and self-isolate for at least 14 days or until symptoms have passed.”