Exeter garden centre is one of first businesses in UK served with prohibition notice for staying open during coronavirus lockdown

A garden centre in Exeter has been served with a prohibition notice for falling foul of coronavirus lockdown laws. 

Plants Galore, in Topsham Road, near Countess Wear, Exeter, became one of the first business in the UK to be issued notice of an offence under new Health Protection regulations that came into effect this week.

These aim to protect the public from coronavirus – including shutting ‘non-essential’ shops and retail outlets.

The notice said the branch had continued to open to the public as a garden centre and must stop immediately.

It was served after Exeter City Council said it received complaints from members of the public.

The authority said the store can continue to operate ‘via electronic means’ and function as a store for other permitted items.

An Exeter City Council spokesperson said: “Environmental Health and Community Safety team, assisted by police, has served a prohibition notice on Plants Galore.

“The notice, delivered to the branch at Topsham Road in Exeter, advises of an offence under new Health Protection regulations that came into law this week to protect the public from coronavirus.

“The notice says that the branch has permitted the sale of garden plants, seeds, bulbs and other garden items and must immediately cease doing so.

“The store can continue to operate via electronic means and function as a store for other permitted items.

“Failure to abide by the requirements of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions England 2020) is an offence.

“The move comes after Exeter City Council received complaints from members of the public.”

A notice on the Plants Galore website prior to the prohibition notice being served said it had been trading at low level, with a handful of customers, and had implemented a series of measures at each store to ensure safe shopping.

It’s coronavirus policy said: “We advise members of the public not to leave their homes during the present health crisis until the government updates its advice.”

UPDATE: Exeter garden centre owner rips up ‘unfair’ coronavirus closure order and says: ‘We’re staying open’

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