A sunny weekend in New Brunswick is usually a good time to shop for gardening supplies, especially following the news that centres were given approval to re-open by the government on Thursday — but not all places were equipped to handle physical distancing, and are keeping its doors closed to the public for now.
Gardening centres opening its doors are required to follow physical distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and to protect staff and customers.
Scott’s Nursery in Lincoln, near Fredericton, had to break the news to its customers that the business isn’t equipped for physical distancing yet, and isn’t sure when it will open.
“Our customers were calling all excited that we were open,” said George Scott, co-owner of Scott’s Nursery.
Scott said the government’s decision to allow gardening centres to open is welcome news, but not something his business is ready for right now.
“We want to be open,” Scott said. “I know lots of garden centres were probably thrilled to have the news, and our situation, because of our layout, we’re just struggling with how we can accommodate the distancing safety.”
Scott said there are a lot of challenges to work out before the public is allowed inside the garden centre, but it’s something he’s working on figuring out.
“Our situation is trying to come up with a floor plan that allows people to have their distance and still shop,” Scott said.
The garden centre is about 20,000-square-feet in size and connects to several other buildings that people are able to walk through.
Despite the large amount of space, narrow passages inside the greenhouses make it difficult to maneuver.
“The arrows and so on that some of the supermarkets are using is where we see ourselves going but we really haven’t got there yet.”
Scott admits that keeping the doors closed to the public is not an easy business decision to make right now, but feels it’s the right thing to do.
“We have our season just starting — it’s the make it or break it time of year — it’s certainly not an easy call, we didn’t decide without putting a lot of thought into it,” he said.
Like many businesses operating during COVID-19 Scott’s Nursery has found creative ways to serve its customers with contactless drive-thru pickup service, and a newly expanded online store.
Scott said those services are still open, and although it’s not an ideal way to do business, it’s been working.
“A lot of those measures I didn’t think I’d see in my lifetime, you think of plants as being a hands-on thing and it’s kinda coming fast and furiously,” Scott said laughing.