Besides the current mutated virus, the UK has more to deal with, namely the Brexit - these two factors are affecting and worrying the floral industry. This is explained by Rebecca Barrett of New Covent Garden Market. "Virus or vaccine, deal or no deal, we hope that UK and European governments can resolve the situation soon so that our traders can get flowers and plants in before we will open again after the Christmas break."
Chaos on the road
Fortunately, just before the chaos started, the 20 wholesalers at New Covent Garden Market received their flowers on time, enabling them to fulfill their Christmas orders. "During this time of the year, most of the cut flowers sold at the market are imported. On Monday morning, we received one of the final deliveries. What you see at the moment is that most people transporting freight do not want to enter the UK as they are afraid they won’t get back home in time for Christmas."
Today and tomorrow are, according to Barrett, usually quiet days for the wholesalers at the market. "Florists are often already busy working with the flowers they've bought earlier in the week."
Brexit, another worry
The Flower Market will be closed for some dates over the Christmas season and will open again on January 4th. However, when looking at the current situation regarding the virus and Brexit, it might be a challenge to get all the flowers over. "It is worrying," says Barrett. "Hopefully, they can introduce measures that allow vital key workers who transport fresh produce between the UK and Europe to easily enter and leave the UK. On top of that, Brexit means that from 1st January, 2021 additional paperwork is required to move fresh produce, including flowers, between the UK and Europe. This could add pressure to an already difficult situation. Our first delivery of flowers will be on the 3rd of January and we hope Governments on both sides ensure fresh produce will continue to move with minimal disruption."
*Some wholesalers will reopen before the 4th of January and they therefore encourage florists to contact them directly.
Update on situation: France re-open border but drivers must have negative test results
France has lifted the ban on people entering from the UK, at the moment it is only for French nationals or people with French residency and hauliers. The Netherlands and Belgium have also relaxed the bans. 50 other countries are still blocking entry to travellers from the UK.
The army will help workers from the NHS carry out testing of the people waiting to enter France, anyone with a positive test must quarantine for 10 in the UK.
More than 1500 trucks have been stranded in the UK since the ban came into place on Sunday, it could take 2-3 days to get the traffic moving normally.
The European Commission issued a statement yesterday saying lorry drivers within the European Union should be exempt from any travel ban and from testing and quarantine requirements at a border crossing. Drivers may be subjected to a test but only if this does not cause serious disruptions in the logistics chain,. The Dutch association GroentenFruit Huis supports the recommendations of the European Commission and advocates free transport of fresh products, the use of Green Lanes and good facility facilities for drivers. GroentenFruit Huis has been talking to the government and the European umbrella organization FreshFel for some time about the introduction of so-called Green Lanes, whereby transport of fruit and vegetables with the necessary certificates is given priority for import into the United Kingdom.
With the new conditions for the reopening of the border, France has partially ignored the recommendations of the European Commission. The negative test policy for truck drivers is not necessary for the Netherlands-UK crossing, TLN reports on its site.
In England itself, panic buying continued yesterday at many supermarkets. This time, the customers left the toilet rolls untouched and bell peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, oranges and spinach disappeared en masse in the shopping carts. British Tesco has put a limit on sales in its stores in response to some products.