A message from Laurie Nesbitt, Florists Supply President
At Florists Supply, our priority is the health and safety of all members of our community. How will COVID-19 (Coronavirus) impact supplies of floral products? It is difficult to provide accurate answers at this early stage, but we do know the following:
- Wuhan, a city located in central China is the province of Hubei, has been under quarantine since January 23rd. Wuhan has a population of 11 million people, and is known as the epicenter of the virus. The Hubei province does not have any major floral suppliers.
- There are some major floral suppliers located in Southern China, the second most affected area.
- At this time, we have not been notified of any disruptions to our Fall and Holiday shipments that arrive between June and August.
- Buyers typically visit Chinese factories in March/April to make sample selections for Spring 2021. Flights to China are currently difficult to book on some air carriers. Some buyers have delayed their trips until further information is known, especially as they could face quarantine of 14 days during or after a trip. Our AA Importing buyers have postponed their trip, and will reevaluate in late April.
- We have approximately $1.1 million of Fall and Holiday inventory currently in stock and available to shop on floristssupply.com. Should a major disruption of production and shipping occur, we have enough product stocked to meet some of your second half needs. Fall and Holiday product may not be a necessity like toilet paper, but if a significant percentage of your business is derived from this season, you may want to secure some product early.
- We purchase fresh flowers from Italy and the Netherlands, where flights presently appear to be on schedule. With the United States banning non-US citizens travelling to the US from Europe, excluding the UK, many airlines will be forced to cancel a large percentage of their regular flights. We are monitoring if flights to Canada will be impacted.
How does the virus spread? And can you be infected by a product produced in China or other countries where coronavirus is present? At this time, there is not a firm conclusion on this. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated the following:
“People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.
WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share updated findings.”
The U.S. Center of Disease Control has stated that a person may become infected by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.
Some earlier studies on similar viruses have shown that these viruses can remain infectious for up to nine days on inanimate surfaces at room temperature.
There is nothing currently definitive from Health Authorities on the length of time coronavirus can remain infectious on inanimate surfaces.
During the time a product is produced, shipped to a port in China, loaded onto an ocean container, sail to North America, unloaded through a busy port, and distributed to Florists Supply typically takes a minimum of five weeks (approximately 35 days), or more.
Other viruses, like the flu, are known to remain infectious longer during cold temperatures. During the Fall and Holiday product shipping period (June to August), hotter temperatures will be more prevalent.
We are awaiting updates from experts to provide a definitive answer as to whether imported products are carrying this virus. We recommend looking to reputable sources for information regarding COVID-19.
Similar to avoiding any other virus, authorities (as did my Grade 1 Teacher Mrs. Mary Fiel, bless her) recommend washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. They also suggest avoiding touching your eyes, ears, and mouth.
We would like to express our gratitude to the authorities working to contain the virus, and thoughts to those that have been directly impacted. We will keep you posted if, and when, more information becomes available.