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Spring Fling - Local gardeners face uncertainties

IRON RIVER / ALPHA — We have all been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions put in place to contain the spread of the virus. The term “social distancing” has become a regular part of our current vocabulary as people in all walks of life try to cooperate with the orders handed down at the federal, state and local levels.
    Nevertheless, some of the mandates have been unclear and have led to confusion and controversy. One of those has dealt with what are labeled garden centers and plant nurseries.
    On April 9, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-42 which basically put a “temporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.”
    It’s a very broad label and so the order was 10 pages long and dealt with employers and workers, governmental bodies, outdoor activities, travel and what have been called essential and non-essential businesses and critical infrastructure, i.e. businesses that are allowed to continue operating within the executive order.
    In terms of the gardening industry, the executive order stated:
    A). For stores of less than 50,000 square feet of customer floor space, limit the number of people in the store (including employees) to 25 percent of the total occupancy limits established by the state fire marshal or a local fire marshal.
    B). For stores of more than 50,000 square feet, limit the number of customers in the store at one time (excluding employees) to four people per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space.
    Of course, that doesn’t solve all the issues.
    “It is my understanding the little guy can still sell garden supplies, but not the big-name stores with more square footage,’ said Iron County Market Master Ginny LaFountain. “This limits people to options out there and gardeners

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