LANSING (WJRT) (4/3/2020) - Lawn care and landscaping businesses in Michigan are closed under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order, but at least one lawmaker wants to change that.
Whitmer's administration classified lawn care and landscaping work as non-essential, meaning the companies are not allowed to operate during the coronavirus pandemic.
Only outdoor work to improve the health, safety and sanitation of a residence is allowed under Whitmer's order.
State Rep. Jim Lower, a Republican from Greenville, asked Whitmer to allow lawn care and landscaping work to resume. He believes forcing them to close is overly restrictive and hurts small businesses.
“Doing yard work is perfectly safe. Everywhere you look, people are outside picking up brush, clearing out their flower beds and trimming back shrubs – and no one is within six feet of anyone else,” Lower said.
He pointed out that hardware stores remain open and to sell gardening and landscaping products, but companies can't use them to clean up a senior citizen's yard.
"It just doesn’t make sense,” Lower said.
He has heard from several frustrated landscapers out of work who are certain they can do their jobs outdoors while following social distancing guidelines.
Lower is concerned if lawn care companies remain off the job much longer, they won't be able to spray for fleas, ticks and mosquitoes in time.
The lack of landscapers also hurts greenhouses and nurseries, who do a bulk of their business in the spring.
“Most of these businesses are family owned and operate outside, where social distancing would be easy to comply with. Yet, they’re forced to close while grocery and hardware stores can continue selling their plants," Lower said.