The Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association (PLNA) submitted a request that independent, family-owned garden centers be considered essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, but received a response that no change would be made, according to the association website. Other states in the northeastern U.S., including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio, have allowed garden centers to stay open through the outbreak.
On March 20, Penn. Governor Tom Wolf’s executive order No. 7H restricted all businesses and not-for-profit entities from gathering in a workplace, except for life-sustaining businesses. The office identified the critical operations by their North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code, and posted a Life Sustaining Business list (PDF). Lawn and garden equipment and supply stores fall under NAICS code 4442, and are not on the list.
PLNA asked to reclassify the 4442-coded businesses so they could reopen. The PLNA website published the governor’s office response on their website, which restated that in-person operations at independent lawn and garden centers and big-box store retail chains must remain closed to the public, as gathering at the workplace is prohibited. Retailers can apply for a waiver to perform online sales, curbside pickups, and deliveries.
The response also reaffirms that farm supplies and animal feed retailers may remain open. Nursery and tree production (code 111421) and greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture production (code 1114) were deemed essential and continue to operate.
The PLNA created a petition to ask Gov. Wolf to reopen garden centers, which has generated nearly 17,000 signatures in one week. The petition explains the research-proven benefits of gardening and landscaping, which can improve the lives of people, the environment, and the economy. The spring shopping season is also the source of 60–75% of annual revenue for many regional garden centers, and business owners cannot stay in business without the upcoming sales.