Just days before Mother's Day weekend, Los Angeles' flower shops were given the green light to reopen Friday for curbside-only business, but the NBC4 I-Team has found many florists have been open for weeks and have been violating the city's coronavirus prevention guidelines.
“This is the first I’m hearing that florist shops have been open,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, head of LA County’s Department of Public Health, said Wednesday.
The I-Team has seen numerous flower stores allowing customers inside their businesses, and many workers have not been wearing the required masks or practicing social distancing as business has picked up in advance of Mother's Day.
"I'm very afraid, if the science is right, that we're going to have a lot of new cases of coronavirus after Mother's Day," said Estela Lopez, head of downtown's Central City East business improvement. Lopez showed the I-Team emails she's been sending to the Mayor’s office and the City Attorney about the violations of safety guidelines by florists.
Lopez said she wants these businesses to be open for sales, but only if protocols and safe social distancing are implemented.
“It’s a good business to support. But we can support business and not get people sick or having people taking the virus home to their mothers and grandmothers after buying flowers” she said.
"We should have had a bilingual communication campaign to talk to businesses and their customers about safe social distancing,” Lopez said. “I’m afraid that the messaging has been confusing and inadequate.”
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The mayor’s office announced Tuesday that flower shops and markets would be monitored for compliance with the city’s coronavirus guidelines. When asked by the I-Team Wednesday about who is monitoring these businesses, the Mayor said that "business ambassadors" have visited 65 stores. Garcetti said the names of three of those businesses have been turned over by LAPD for action.