Berkeley florist changes mind about reopening Friday in defiance of Alameda County health order, will remain closed

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Friday, May 8, 2020
Coronavirus: Berkeley florist ready to open Friday for curbside sales no matter what Alameda County says
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Alameda County is prohibiting curbside sales, despite the governor's order to loosen COVID-19 restrictions - but the owner of Ashby Flowers in Berkeley say's her shop will be open anyway, just in time for mother's day.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Since this story first aired Thursday morning, the owner of Ashby Flowers changed their mind and decided not to open Friday in defiance of the Alameda County health order prohibiting curbside retail sales. The shop will remain closed.

Ashby Flowers in Berkeley is preparing to open Friday for curbside sales as a part of "Phase 2" of Gov. Gavin Newsom's plan to re-open businesses in California, even if means defying county health orders.

The flower shop at the corner of Ashby Avenue and Telegraph Avenue has been around for 70 years. The current owners have owned in for the last 26 years.

Business has never been this bad, especially in the month of May.

"I'm amazed that they let us do this I didn't think this would happen," said Marcy Simon, owner of Ashby Flowers. "We thought we would only be able to do deliveries so we are excited for the community to come out."

With graduations usually taking place at UC Berkeley and Mother's Day, the month of May is the biggest money maker for the Berkeley flower shop.

The flower shop owner said they received a phone call this week from the county providing unexpected news: the shop could open on Friday in accordance with "Phase 2" of Newsom's plan to re-open businesses in the state, as long as health guidelines are followed.

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Simon called the timing "perfect" just ahead of Mother's Day on Sunday.

However, earlier this week Bay Area health officers in seven counties, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and Sonoma counties, confirmed to ABC7 News while the governor may ease guidelines for businesses to re-open across the state, there would be no significant changes to the health orders covering their counties through the end of May.

Only Napa and Solano County health officers acknowledged some restrictions may be limited in the county for "low risk activities" as early as Friday.

ABC7 news has not independently verified the call the flower shop owner said she received.

RELATED: Coronavirus in California: Modoc County defies Gov. Newsom's statewide lockdown

As of May 4, outdoor businesses were allowed to resume, so someone selling roses on the street or an outdoor nursery is fine. But florist operating indoors, like Ashby Flowers, would not be in compliance with the health order - even for curbside pick up. Local law enforcement has been told to use this as an educational period given the confusion.

When asked if Ashby Flowers will open Friday even if it's prohibited from doing so by county health officers, owner Marcy Simon chuckled and said "yes."

Blue tape lines the sidewalk outside of the store for customers to wait in line, six feet apart and owners are also working on installing a plastic shield at the front door of the shop to protect shoppers as they pay.

Simon said with business halted since March 16 with the exception of contact-less home delivery sales are down 70 percent and at least 3 employees have been laid off.

Owners of the flower shop are hoping for a big re-opening to slowly begin bouncing back.