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Love Your Garden presenter Alan Titchmarsh, 71, has spoken out about the “absurdity” of the UK government allowing DIY stored to open their plant areas and not allowing garden centres to re-open during the coronavirus lockdown. The star described the decision to keep garden centres closed until the middle of May as “short-sighted and not thought through”.
Alan, who is a passionate gardener, addressed the situation while speaking to this week’s Radio Times about how the pandemic has impacted the British horticultural industry.
He told the publication: “The government’s policy to keep garden centres closed until mid-May was short-sighted and not thought through.
“When supermarkets were given social distancing guidelines, the same could easily have been done for garden centres because it’s so much simpler to apply the protocols outside.
“Instead, we had the absurdity of DIY stores being able to open their plant areas, while the very people whose livelihood is exclusively bound up in plants were not allowed to sell them.”
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The television personality went on to reveal he has contacted Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Michael Gove to implore them to consider the horticultural crisis caused by the policies surrounding garden centres during the pandemic.
Alan continued: “In April I wrote to the Prime Minister and Michael Gove, who replied that they were ‘factoring in to their considerations’ the points I made.
“I hope it made a difference. At least now garden centres and growers will be open for six weeks of the critical three-month period when they do the vast majority of their annual business. We can salvage something for our £24 billion-a-year industry.
“But it’s disastrous that garden centres remain closed in Scotland, and nationwide we still desperately need what the Dutch have done, which is to put a compensation package in place. Government loans are no use to businesses that can never hope to repay them.”
In spite of Alan’s criticism of the government’s decisions, he insisted they have “tried to get it right” while responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, the presenter added that the lack of personal protective equipment has been “a great c**k up”.
He added: “I don’t envy the government their job.
“In general I think they have tried hard to get it right on Covid-19, although there’s been a great cock-up on PPE [personal protective equipment].”
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Elsewhere, Alan hit out at lockdown rules for over 70s after the Prime Minister announced new measures but insisted vulnerable Britons must stay at home.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “The length of lockdown for you should depend entirely on your own personal health.
“People in their 20s, 30s and 40s with underlying health issues are far more at risk than fighting-fit 70-year-olds.
“I think it’s got to be based on your general health and it’s easy enough to evaluate with your local GP.”
Alan Titchmarsh spoke to this week’s Radio Times [RADIO TIMES]
He added: “They will know whether you should be in lockdown or not. Not just because you’ve hit a magic number.
“Just because someone was 71 two weeks ago, it doesn’t mean to say that they’re not fit.”
The current lockdown rules for over-70-year-olds are for them to be careful to minimise contact with anyone outside their household.
The Government explained that vulnerable people include those aged 70 or over “regardless of medical conditions”.
Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times – out now.
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