Oxford florist frustrated as plans to reopen shop are crushed

Oxford florist frustrated as plans to reopen shop are crushed

A FRUSTRATED florist is disappointed that he cannot reopen his shop yet even though garden centres and supermarkets are selling flowers and plants.

Gary Cooper, owner of Fabulous Flowers, was hoping to reopen his Banbury Road branch on Wednesday after the Government said garden centres could open again.

He planned to allow customers to buy flowers from outside his store and pay using contactless payment on a wireless card machine.

But after checking with Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards, he was told his flower shop has to remain closed.

Mr Cooper said: “Our Oxford shop has a wide area outside where we sell plants and flowers from. So we were hoping to be able to sell plants and flowers at the front of the shop.

“We set up a counter at the front door where we would take card payments and I even bought a new wireless card machine.

“We thought it would be fine because M&S is currently open selling flowers and plants and garden centres are open now.” Oxford Mail: Under Regulation 5 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, all businesses selling goods from a shop are required to close, unless their business is listed in Part 3 of Schedule 2.

Florists are not listed and therefore are required to remain closed.

However, Mr Cooper feels this is unfair, particularly as supermarkets can sell flowers and plants but his shop can’t, despite it being part of the gardening industry.

He said: “The problem is there are florists within garden centres that are open so this isn’t fair. When I was in M&S last week in Summertown, a lady who was in the queue before me bought two house plants.

“Waitrose has also massively increased plants and flowers outside the store.

“I feel it needs to be fair to everyone. I have got ultimate respect with following the rules, but it seems unfair that businesses in the same industry are being treated differently.”

The florist is currently delivering flowers and is accepting online orders.Mr Cooper says he has been really busy as lots of people want to buy flowers for family and friends they haven’t been able to see during lockdown. Oxford Mail: Although the shop is not allowed to open yet, Trading Standards says click and collect services are acceptable where customers can buy products online in advance and pick them up at the shop without entry into the premises.Trading Standards said: “Whilst garden centres and florists both sell flowers, they are very different businesses and garden centres have a wide range of products in addition to flowers.They also tend to be large spaces, with significant open areas. which can make social distancing easier. Florist shops tend to be much smaller and enclosed.“Had the Government intended for florists to be allowed to be open, we can only assume that they would have been specifically identified and added to the list of businesses that can open.”

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