Get out your gardening gloves — Manitoba public health officials clarified Thursday that greenhouses and gardening centres are among businesses allowed to remain open to customers under public health orders, provided physical distancing measures are in place.
Public health orders that came into effect at the start of April, and have now been extended to April 28, require non-essential businesses to close their doors in order to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
At the time the public health orders were announced, the province said a broad range of services considered essential could continue operating, but chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin provided more clarity on those rules on Thursday.
Some small and medium-sized gardening businesses are welcoming the clarification.
“It’s a big, big, big relief for us. Going into the spring was scary,” said Jordan Hiebert, who owns Lacoste Garden Centre in Winnipeg.
“We have greenhouses of products we were growing, and the plants are there whether we can sell them or not.
“So if we couldn’t open and couldn’t sell them, we wouldn’t just have the revenue hit — we would’ve had the cost of all that product going to waste.”
Hiebert says the garden centre was consulting with customers over the phone and had an online shop open, but it wasn’t the same.
“Our product is really something that’s a sensory product. It’s something that’s alive, that you need to see and smell. It can be complicated to buy over the phone,” he said.
Roussin said on Thursday that bigger businesses that are still open to the public have continued selling gardening products because they were deemed essential businesses, and that’s part of the reason he made the clarification.
“A number of the big box stores are selling these type of products as well, and are remaining open because they are in the exception group,” he said.
But he also said being outside gardening or doing yardwork is a good way to stay active during the pandemic — while staying at home.
“We want Manitobans to be able to to spend time in their yards. It’s a great way to be active and to be and to still be social distancing,” Roussin said.
Gardening centres and greenhouses will have to put strict physical distancing strategies in place to ensure the safety of workers and patrons.
Farmers markets were also included in Roussin’s clarification on Thursday. They can stay open, as long as they can ensure physical distancing.
Hotels can continue to have guests, but their public spaces like pools, hot tubs and game rooms must be closed.
Campgrounds can accommodate RVs that serve as people’s primary homes, but not campers, the province said Thursday.
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