An image of fruits and vegetables with the title: COVID-19 Information for Horticultural Producers

I hope you are keeping well at the beginning of another week of challenging times. We all hope that health services can operate well under the massive pressure that is building. I have begun to get reports of small numbers of employees being ill with COVID-19. I think this will be the common scenario over the coming weeks.

The recent announcement by the Government on Friday 27th and updated list of essential businesses. The revised essential services list published Saturday 28th has resulted in significant restrictions across the country. Garden centre retail is not classified as essential, though I understand online/delivery is permitted. Non-essential business have a grace period until 6 pm Monday 30th to wind down and put contingencies in place.

Horticulture including plant production is covered, under the Services Provided heading of “ Agriculture & Fishing” and it states (and includes) as follows:

“farmers, farm labourers, farm relief service workers, and others involved directly or indirectly in crop and animal production and related activities (including veterinary services), and workers involved in fishing”

The employer should give a letter to any essential employees for the purposes of validating travel if requested by An Garda Síochana. This sample letter prepared by REI can be adapted and printed on headed paper. According to the detail in the essential list…..
‘When travelling to and from work, you should at all times bring with you either a work identification or a letter from your employer indicating that you are an essential employee, as well as one other form of identification’.

The Government COVID 19 wage subsidy scheme should be something that all employers are aware of. Teagasc will shortly circulate a tailored horticulture fact sheet focused on COVID-19.

Teagasc Technical Advice 

Teagasc Horticulture Development Department issued a technical support document Friday 20th. This remains useful guidance in developing an immediate response to the situation and for contingency planning in the coming days and weeks. I would be mindful that while social distancing is in practice in many places the employer must strictly enforce this in their workplace. The likely scenario of poor distancing is an outbreak and significant numbers of employees being becoming ill at the same time. Further society health impacts could be devastating.

Please see here (pdf) a short communication from Teagasc Horticultural Development Department, under the following headings
1. Employer and Employee Obligations
2. Sick pay
3. Continuity Planning
4. Useful Links
5. Teagasc Contact

Posters and signs for your premises – Source DBEI Ireland

The Department of Health has developed public health information posters and social distancing graphics to display on your premises.

More posters, leaflets and social media assets are available on HSE posters and resources.

Related information and guidance – Source DBEI Ireland