Disease to hit Christmas events

Christmas attractions at many UK garden centres will be hit by livestock movement restrictions imposed because of bluetongue.

To try and control the disease’s spread, DEFRA has introduced two control zones with animal movements restricted. Several garden centres have had to cancel reindeer-themed events because they can not cross the zones. Garden & Leisure operations director Carol Paris said reindeer visits to stores in Huntingdon and Melbick had been cancelled. “Poor old Santa will have to find a different way to get to the stores because reindeer are not an option.” Berkshire-based Reindeer 4hire owner Jackie Rowberry said the company was located in the larger protection zone which meant she could travel to sites within that but was restricted to where she could travel with reindeer. That meant trips to Garden & Leisure’s centres in Devon and Cornwall would have to be cancelled. She said: “It has been really hard. I have to watch the zones to make sure they don’t get stuck anywhere. It’s more dangerous than foot and mouth because we haven’t got a vaccine for it.” Scottish company Cairngorm Reindeer Centre has cancelled visits to at least four garden centres in the Midlands and south-east England. Owner Tilly Smith said on the company’s website it was a “massive financial blow” because about 75 per cent of its Christmas income comes from events in England and Wales.

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