The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's announcement that garden centres and homeware retailers are being removed from the list of essential retailers has come under fire from retailers' representatives.

It means garden centres and homeware stores will have to close from Boxing Day.

Garden centres were permitted to reopen at the end of May, the first sub-sector of retail to be allowed to re-open following the introduction of the national lockdown in late March.

The Scottish Retail Consortium said shops have taken "every mitigation possible to keep customers and staff as safe as possible".

READ MORE: Scott Wright: New lockdown kicks Scottish firms when they are down

It said papers from public health advisers SAGE and its Welsh counterparts, the Technical Advisory Group, have explained the closure of shops would only have a “very minimal impact” on R values and reducing transmission of the virus.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “We recognise the situation with the pandemic is fast moving and are behind efforts to get on top of the virus, however this is yet further disappointing and dispiriting news for Scotland’s retail industry.

“We fully appreciate this announcement is about government wanting people to stay home, however it is frustrating when the evidence suggests closing shops has a minimal impact on the spread of the virus and after retailers have demonstrated they can operate safely in the current environment, and invested significantly to make stores Covid-secure for customers and staff.

"Its doubly frustrating to learn of further chopping and changing to the Covid framework, and at painfully short notice, when retailers have spent months pleading for greater visibility over potential next steps and a more consistent approach.”

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