With Mother’s Day fast approaching, flowers are typically big business this time of year. SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The coronavirus economic fallout is expected to hit one of California’s leading industries – the floral industry. The devastating hit comes at a time when flowers are in bloom and ready to be cut, and just weeks away from Mother’s Day.

As non-essential businesses continue to be shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, San Diego floral shops have been left in confusion as to whether or not they are exempt, and in fact considered essential.

“[The] mayor’s office says yes. [The] governor’s office says yes,” said Douglas Garhartt, Genesee Florist Manager and designer. “Then I get two officers came in one day and they’re like, ‘you are not supposed to be open. Someone turned you in and we have to investigate.’”

Garharrt said he showed the officers a letter taped to his front door written by the California State Floral Association (CFSA) addressed to members stating Governor Newsom had named agriculture as one of the 16 sectors of critical infrastructure work .

“The floral industry is considered “essential” and allowed to continue to operate – employees need to adhere to keeping social distance from one another,” stated the letter.

In an e-mail to News 8, Ann Quinn, Executive Vice President for the California State Floral Association said: “Agriculture is one of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors – cut flowers are listed under the Agriculture code.

She also added, “It is also critical to note that local city and county jurisdictions have the authority to make the final determination as to whether a flower shop can be open for business (it is my understanding only for deliveries) adhering to all COVID-19 safety restrictions.”

San Diego police said they received legal advice from the city attorney’s office who does not consider floral shops as essential.

“If you read through that entire section it does not indicate that a floral shop is a critical infrastructure,” said Lt. Shawn Takeuchi, San Diego Police Department.

Nurseries can remain open because they provide for home gardens.

The city attorney and City of San Diego referred News 8 to San Diego police, and San Diego County referred News 8 to the governor’s office. The latter did not return News 8’s request for clarification as to whether or not floral shops are essential or not.

“Floral shops cannot do pick up because that would be interaction. They can do delivery type business – that could work,” said Takeuchi.

Florists worry that growers will not have anyone to sell to. Florists said they feel like they are doomed, especially ahead of the Mother’s Day holiday.“Mother’s Day we make money to keep us going all summer long, through the slow season, and if we don’t do that, we can’t stay open,” said Garhartt.Police said they investigated Genesee Florists because of a complaint to 2-1-1.San Diego police said they’ve issued 16 to 17 citations – including to smoke shops.If businesses do not comply and found guilty in court, they could face up to […]