Malagari votes to open Pennsylvania garden centers safely, quickly

HARRISBURG, May 4 – State Rep. Steve Malagari, D-Montgomery, today announced that the House passed a bill Thursday to open garden centers, whose work is critical to helping Pennsylvanians provide food for themselves and the environment, after an amendment supported by Malagari 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.

“We are trying to navigate through an unprecedented time,” Malagari said. “My first priority is the safety of my constituents. We believe that people can get back to shopping in our garden centers by following the state health department and the CDC’s guidelines. But it takes us all working together. This measure will start to get more of our people back to work and allow others to shop while maintaining safe distances and wearing masks. It also means providing protections for the employees we are asking to put at risk.”

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.

For more information, those interested can contact Malagari’s office at (267) 768-3671.


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