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COVID-19 Update

Saturday, March 21, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lori Jenssen
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For the latest news and information on COVID-19 and the green industry, see below:

COVID-19 Update: what is allowed/what isn't?
 
We've been working on getting answers regarding the green industry and the effect of New Jersey Executive Order No. 107 , limiting business activity. Here is what we know so far:
 
  • According to the Department of Homeland Security, the CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) is the nation’s risk advisor, and was responsible for developing guidance to help state and local governments and the private sector ensure that employees essential to operations of critical infrastructure are able to continue working with as little interruption as possible. This list includes Agriculture as an essential infrastructure. This letter, which may be important to keep on hand, can be found HERE(areas of interest are highlighted)
 
  • Essential businesses include those that sell food directly to the public, and could include agricultural food products, seeds, herbs, vegetable or starter plants, for example. Businesses that sell fuel (firewood, propane) or even dog food could also be considered essential. A garden center that sells these types of essential products will likely be considered an essential business.
 
  • An interpretation by our allied organization, the New Jersey Green Industry Council reads, "Lawn, Landscape, and Tree care companies can continue working in the areas of maintenance and treatment as they are considered service companies, not retail."
 
  • The Executive Order also states that, "To the extent a business or non-profit has employees that cannot perform their functions via telework or work-from-home arrangements, the business or non-profit should make best efforts to reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure that essential operations can continue. Examples of employees who need to be physically present at their work site in order to perform their duties include, but are not limited to, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and other first responders, cashiers or store clerks, construction workers, utility workers, repair workers, warehouse workers, lab researchers, information technology maintenance workers, janitorial and custodial staff, and certain administrative staff." This can also be interpreted to include landscaping services. 
 
  • According to The New Jersey Board of Tree Experts with the cooperation of the NJ Arborists – ISA Chapter, the Committee for the Advancement of Arboriculture (CAA) and supportive legislators, they have received word from the Governor’s Office that: Tree Care and Tree Work can continue under the Governor’s Executive Order as long as tree care businesses and licensees follow social distancing recommendations.
 
  • The Executive Orders issued today in New Jersey give Colonel Callahan of the New Jersey State Police the authority to amend the list of essential businesses included in the Executive Order. The Secretary of Agriculture is in direct communication with the Colonel, and can provide guidance regarding our specific industries.
 
  • The Secretary of Agriculture has asked NJNLA to provide information on how landscape companies and retail garden centers have developed operational processes that maintain the guidelines of social distancing. Examples of processes that can conform to this mandate would be curbside pickup, advance ordering, payment by credit card only, and insuring workers and customers maintain a minimum of 6' distance. Landscape companies would invoke policies that would insure employees are also working at a minimum of 6' from each other.
 
  • This information, supplied by NJNLA, should provide the much-needed clarification that we are seeking. Once this clarification is received, we will let you know. We are seeking essential worker language similar to what was adopted in North Carolina, which reads, "Agriculture workers supporting the green industry to include nursery operations, garden centers, landscape and maintenance companies critical to the environmental and physical living conditions necessary in our communities."
  • In the meantime, staying open or deciding to close is up to each individual company, and how you interpret this information. Regardless, it is critical that you continue to follow the CDC's guidelines for keeping everyone safe. For a quick refresher on guidelines for work, home & commercial establishments, click HERE.

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