A COVID Direction Order has been issued to Whitehall Garden Centre, after local outcry over parking and queues at the centre in recent weeks.

Wiltshire Council has been working closely with the garden centre’s management team to support them to ensure they are operating safely to protect both their staff and customers.

The Direction Order instructs the management of the garden centre to comply with a number of directions, including review car parking arrangements, implement more measures to ensure customers can visit in a COVID secure way such as an improved queuing system, floor markings and one-way system; increase staff training and much more careful monitoring of customer numbers on the premises.

The requirements set out in the Order will be in effect until midnight on 31 December or until varied or revoked before then by the council.

Terence Herbert, chief executive of Wiltshire Council, said: “We know that this garden centre is extremely popular at this time of the year, but we have had to issue this Direction Order to ensure that it does not present a serious risk to public health through the spread of Covid-19.

“Our public health and public protection teams are working in partnership with Wiltshire Police, Public Health England and other local partners to ensure that the order is adhered to by the centre.

“We will review this order at least every seven days, and if and when there is any further change to government restrictions beyond what’s already been announced.

“I would also like to ask the public to be sensible during these difficult times, and to stay away from crowded areas, and to remember to socially distance, wear a face covering where appropriate, and wash your hands regularly, as this will help to prevent the spread of the virus in Wiltshire and beyond.”

Superintendent Dave Minty of Wiltshire Police added: “The current COVID legislation permits local authorities to impose certain restrictions in response to a serious or imminent threat to public health and to prevent COVID transmission.

“Wiltshire Council have been in consultation with us regarding this matter and, now the direction order has been made, we will support them to ensure the restrictions detailed in the order are adhered to.

“We will continue to work closely with the local authority, partners and local businesses to provide guidance and support in these difficult times. These powers are however in place to protect public health and to stop the spread of COVID and we would like to thank the vast majority of our businesses who continue to work hard to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus and abide by the regulations laid out by Government.”

Last week the owners of the Whitehall Garden Centre, the Self family, issued an apology.

In a statement, they said: "We are deeply sorry to the local community for the disturbance caused over the weekend.

"We are a small family and an independent business and are only trying to do our best to support our community and staff and survive as a business through the current pandemic."

Whitehall Garden Centre have been approached for comment again today.

The full Direction Order can be found on the Wiltshire Council website at https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/public-health-coronavirus