P.E.I. lawn-care companies expect 'huge hit' after some services deemed non-essential by public health
'Being that we're on the non-essential list we cannot start until we're given the green light'
- Spring cleanup of branches, leaves and debris have now been deemed 'essential.'
This spring season will be much different for some lawn-care companies on P.E.I. because of COVID-19.
Usually they would be busy in the spring, as Islanders call on them for professional help to get their lawns and gardens ready for the summer.
But the province's chief public health officer has deemed that most of the services they would be doing this time of year are non-essential.
The only exception is cutting grass and seeding new lawns for recently built homes.
"The only thing that we can do is basically cut grass," said Darryl Martin, owner of Mel's Gardening Inc.
That means cleaning up yard waste, edging, fertilizing and pruning have to wait.
"Being that we're on the non-essential list we cannot start until we're given the green light," he said.
And Mel's Gardening isn't the only company that's busy during the spring.
"The springtime no doubt is definitely our busiest time. It would definitely equate to probably close to 30 or 35 per cent of our sales," said Matt Llewellyn, owner of Cutting Edge Property Care.
"We had a full week lined up. We were actually going to be starting over the weekend," he said.
And the loss of that spring season will have a big impact on the bottom line, Llewellyn said.
"It would definitely be a huge hit on revenue for the year, and that's going to make things difficult for us."
Ready to go
Most companies were gearing up to start work either this week or the following week, explained Jim Landry, executive director of Landscape P.E.I.
"There is some disappointment there because we do fully feel that we can maintain that social distancing," said Landry.
He said when crews are on the job, they don't need to interact with homeowners. He also said a number of precautions can be taken by companies to adhere to public health recommendations, such as limiting the number of people travelling together in the same vehicle and not allowing employees to share tools.
And, he said the companies that work in this field completely understand the restrictions.
"There's also a willingness and a desire to comply with any regulations. Everybody wants to do the right thing because no one disagrees with the fact that we need to contain this," he said.
While Landry said he's been trying to speak with someone in government about this, he understands it's an extremely busy time for everyone.
"We understand that, but we would like to be part of the conversation," he said.
"We would like to give them some advice because we're the ones that know our profession better than anybody else does," he said.
COVID-19 top of mind
In his preparations for the season, Martin, with Mel's Gardening Inc., had ordered signs to tell the public the company was adhering to social distancing, put more sanitizer in the trucks and started to think about how employees would travel to job sites safely.
"We might only be able to have one person in the truck, driving obviously. And if there was two other ... employees they could possibly take their own vehicles to the site," he said.
That was something Llewellyn was considering as well.
"Originally we were thinking two people per crew and then one one sitting in the back seat, one sitting in the front obviously wearing masks," he said.
Both Llewellyn and Martin said they understand the need for the restrictions in order to keep both their employees and the public safe. But, both are hoping modifications can be made so they can get work underway.
COVID-19: What you need to know
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.
Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.
How can I protect myself?
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.
Practise physical distancing.
More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.