SAF made the case in a letter to governors nationwide that the importance of flowers to public health during stressful times—combined with industry’s expertise in safe delivery of product to consumers—should qualify floral businesses to be able to continue to deliver product.
“Agriculture is one of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors identified by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) as vital to the economic security, public health and safety of the United States,” says Kate Penn, CEO of The Society of American Florists. “We are writing to highlight an essential aspect of agricultural production and distribution—floriculture—and its impact on public health.”
The letter says the floriculture industry can “play a critical role in improving the population’s mental health as we navigate COVID-19”. In a time of social isolation and heightened loneliness, the letter highlights research from Rutgers, the University of North Florida and Harvard University that shows flowers decrease stress and anxiety as well as lesson depression among seniors.
Penn clarifies that SAF is not advocating that flower shops stay open for walk-in retail sales but rather for website-based business for delivery. “Our industry can and should do its part to help slow down the spread of the virus,” she said. “Our ask is really about e-commerce sales for delivery, much like how restaurants are filling orders.”
In SAF’s letter, Penn points out, “The floriculture industry can give families and friends separated by distance a joyful and safe way to connect and reduce feelings of anxiety and stress—all through the convenience and safety of electronic ordering and touch-free delivery,” Penn says. “Our industry has been offering delivery for well over 100 years, so just like restaurants, couriers and other delivery services, florists are well equipped to get our product to consumers while adhering to the Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
“On behalf of this important sector of agriculture, we ask you to allow floral industry businesses to play a vital role in improving public health at a time when our population needs it most.”
Ultimately, the decision on which businesses can stay open during the COVID-19 crisis is made at the local level, so it’s important legislators hear from their constituents. SAF encourages business owners who can continue to fulfill e-commerce orders following CDC social distancing guidelines to personalize the letter by putting it on company stationery and send it to local and state officials.
Katie Butler is SAF’s senior vice president.