HTA responds to Northern Ireland’s extended lockdown
25 February 2021 | 0
The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has released a statement as lockdown in Northern Ireland is extended to 1 April.
Chairman James Barnes said the extension is “very bad news for horticultural businesses in Northern Ireland where growers and retailers will now lose out on the start of the busiest time of year.”
Barnes continued: “The key trading date of Mother’s Day is now certain to be written off and without click and collect, there is no hope that investments made in producing/ordering springtime favourites such as primroses can be recouped.
“We are particularly disappointed that the huge contribution plants and gardening can make to health and wellbeing has been overlooked by ministers. Our members provide access to a safe and healthy hobby that keeps people at home and allows purchases to be made in a naturally airy and spacious environment.
“We will lobby hard for the Northern Ireland Executive to reconsider the classification of garden centres – we believe they should be included in the list of ‘essential’ retailers and will continue to press for them to re-open as soon as possible.”
Earlier this month, HTA responded to post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland. Following a meeting between Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and vice-president of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic about post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland, Barnes said: “The HTA welcomes recognition by both the UK government and the European Commission of the need to address all outstanding issues and to find workable solutions, particularly for movement of plants and seeds from GB to Northern Ireland.
“However, every week lost in finding pragmatic political and practical solutions is causing immense damage to businesses and consumer choice alike. We need to see a reciprocal arrangement on the removal of prohibitions for our industry, not a long-winded official application process.”