First it was the panic buying of toilet rolls, then staples like rice, pasta and meat — now it's spread to the nursery industry as demand for edible plants and seeds heats up due to coronavirus, reports Australian media abc.net.au. However, how long can the garden centers remain open? Many countries are implementing a shutdown of non-essential activity, but is the nursery industry considered as essential or non-essential? It differs per country. Below an overview of several countries.
In the following countries, floral industry is considered “non-essential”
Last week, it was already announced that all garden centers in France had to close their doors - they could only open animal and general food departments as this belongs to the "Essentials".
Garden centres in Belgium may only sell food and animal feed. AVBS is negotiating a relaxation, but for the time being without result. Supermarkets are still selling flowers and plants.
Selling and delivering flowers and plants online is still allowed but is not recommended, also for flower shops to do so because flowers and plants are not among the extremely necessary products. (source: FloraHolland)
Points of sale for flowers and plants can remain open. This means that, in addition to supermarkets of course, DIY stores, garden centres and (again) florists may also be open. However, they must adhere to the very, very strict requirements with regard to 'social distancing'. Also in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most important market for flowers and plants, this is the policy until further notice. In Bavaria, stricter rules have applied since Saturday, which most other Bundesländer have not yet opted for. (source: FloraHolland)
In the UK, the PM announced yesterday (March 23) the closure of all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship. If the floral industry belongs to "non- essential is still not clear, but several garden centers like Squires Garden Centers and Langlands Garden Center announced to close their doors.
In the following countries, floral industry is considered “essential”
USA - California
In this time of uncertainty, the California State Floral Association, reassures the California floral industry, which includes growers of cut flowers, wholesalers, and retail shops, that they are part of the important food and ag sector which must continue to function as a vital service.
"The floral industry is considered “essential” and allowed to continue to operate – employees need to adhere to keeping social distance from one another. Flower farmers can continue to operate and Retail Florists can stay open with curbside and delivery services – again keeping a social distance from each other", they state in a press release.
USA - Florida
Miami Dade County put new restrictions in place, saying that all non-essential business must close. This does not apply to flower importers, logistics or trucking. Williee Armellini talked to Miami-Dade to confirm this for the industry. For the full statement go to https://www.miamidade.gov/information/library/coronavirus-emergency-order-07-20-businesses.pdf (Source: Flowers and Cents)
At this stage, in Australia, the sector is not classified as ‘non-essential’ and therefore remains open to trade. They have also provided their case as to the reasons why they believe horticulture is an essential activity, specifically the importance of the nursery related supply chain to agricultural production. "Key to this argument is the role it plays within a healthy, functioning, food supply chain. We will continue advocating to influence decision-making wherever possible.", NGIV reported yesterday.
In New Zealand, 'Level 4 restrictions' apply from tomorrow, meaning non-essential businesses, including some nursery operations, must close. "It is highly unlikely that garden centres will be able to sell amenity and garden plants to the public, as these are not essential", NZPPI states in a press release. Also native and forestry nurseries are not classified as essential. Only primary industries involved in food and beverage production and their supporting sectors would be recognised as essential services. This includes all nurseries producing grape vines, fruit trees and vegetable plants for commercial production.