A proposal to allow florists to operate a click-and-collect service before Mother’s Day has been opposed by the Stormont executive, Economics Minister Diane Dodds said.
Culminating in the assembly yesterday, Ms Dodds said plans to allow businesses to reopen during the lockdown to offer the service had been rejected by ministers.
The issue was raised by his party colleague, DUP MP Christopher Stalford, who noted during questions to the minister that Mother’s Day was approaching on Sunday.
He said he was asking on behalf of his children “will they be allowed to go to the local florist to buy their mother a one-click bouquet of flowers and collect?”
Responding, Ms Dodds said she was happy that some click and collect services had been reinstated in businesses.
However, she said it was a “very, very limited form of reopening the economy.”
The Minister for the Economy said she “would have liked” for Mr Stalford’s children to be able to buy flowers for their mother through a local florist, but “unfortunately my proposal on this was not was not supported by the executive “.
“I think that’s a shame because it raises issues about how we treat small independent retailers and how fairly we treat them,” Ms Dodds said.
“You can go and buy flowers at one of the multinationals, but you cannot go to this small independent retailer and use a click and collect service.
“I regret that this was not possible and I hope it will become possible very soon.”
Some florists continue to provide online delivery services.
Belfast Chamber Chief Executive Simon Hamilton said the move was “frankly unbelievable”.
“Denying florists (and indeed many other retailers) the ability to safely operate click-and-collect services is unfair, difficult to justify and will not raise any hope,” said former DUP MP . “It’s hard to see why the minister’s rather modest proposal was rejected.”
Non-essential retail stores in Northern Ireland have been closed since December 26, when a lockdown was imposed to tackle a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases.
Initially, Click and Collect services could only be operated by supermarkets, but from Monday clothing and footwear, baby supplies and electrical appliance stores were allowed to resume operations as part of the process. of the system.
Under current lockdown rules, florists are prohibited from opening until a review of the current lockdown restrictions on March 18.
The executive agreed to keep the current rules in place until April 1.
Meanwhile, a Belfast garden center has written to MPs urging them to consider allowing the area to fully reopen or provide click and pickup services.
Alan and Robin Mercer of the Hillmount Garden Center pleaded with elected officials to take action ahead of a key period for the industry.
According to them, “it is frustrating” to see large multinational supermarkets continue to trade normally, selling products traditionally stocked by garden centers, “when we are on the verge of having to destroy hundreds of thousands of plants that might otherwise be appreciated. by Moms across Northern Ireland on Mothers Day.
However, Aodhan Connolly of the NI Retail Consortium had some great news when he reminded people that they can always order flowers at their mom’s door “and I’m sure he would like it!”
“You can still get flowers for your mother or whoever you want if you have them delivered,” he tweeted.
“They (the florists) are however not open to the click and the collection.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Health yesterday reported the deaths of two people who had previously tested positive for the coronavirus, along with 240 other positive cases.
There were 222 Covid-19 patients in hospital yesterday morning, 32 of whom were in intensive care.