Ciresi votes to open PA garden centers safely, quickly

HARRISBURG, April 30 – State Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, today announced that the House passed a bill to open garden centers, whose work is critical to helping Pennsylvanians provide food for themselves and the environment, after an amendment supported by Ciresi and fellow Democrats was added on to provide critical health and public safety requirements for employees and customers.

The bill must be passed in the Senate before going to Gov. Tom Wolf. Ciresi said the requirements to protect workers are in line with Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine’s direction to keep people safe and calm while reopening the economy.

“What we are looking to do is reopen our state safely above all else,” Ciresi said. “We are taking very cautious first steps to open garden centers so that folks can provide food for themselves and others can get back to work in a proper manner that follows our state health department and national CDC guidelines. This legislation, with additional safety and worker protections, brings our policy in line with most of our neighboring states and is critical to making sure our nurseries and garden centers can survive as businesses after this outbreak is over, without sacrificing our public health."

Under the bill, all stores that receive a waiver and operate would be required to provide, at minimum, the following protections for an essential employee:

  • Additional hazard pay, relative to the employee's risk of exposure.
  • Appropriate new personal protective equipment at the start of every shift. Personal protective equipment shall include, but not be limited to, gloves and a mask.
  • A work environment that maximizes the safety of the employee and the public, including, but not limited to, social distancing and barriers.
  • Cleaning areas with adequate soap and water and breaks to frequently engage in hand washing.
  • Leave for sickness, which shall be compensated at the employee's normal wage.
  • Information by the lawn and garden store if a coworker has been tested for COVID-19 and the results of those tests when available.  A lawn and garden store operating in the commonwealth under a waiver that violates any of the requirements above would be immediately closed and would not be permitted to reopen until the lawn and garden store is in compliance.

“The public is urged to continue practicing social distancing by wearing masks and remaining six feet apart in public spaces that are open,” Ciresi continued.

For more information contact Ciresi’s office at (484) 200-8265.