Am I allowed to stay open?
Garden Centers

Addressing customer concerns
Interpreting the stay-at-home-order
Is my business considered essential?

UPDATE: Governor Pritzker's Stay-at-Home Order Extended Through May 31, 2020

Am I Part of Essential Business?

As a business, you must carefully balance both the health and welfare of your employees and customers, the need to remain viable as a business, and your desire to serve the community. You are best positioned, in accordance with guidance from the CDC and local officials, to decide what services you will continue to offer in light of the new executive order and what is continuing to develop in your local community.  IGIA and other industry partners can offer guidance, and we will continue to seek clarity for everyone's benefit and peace of mind. 

Any green industry business that has plant material to maintain should continue the necessary staffing to maintain that plant material.  That would fall under Minimum Basic Operations outlined in the order and "the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business's inventory". 

You must exercise more caution and discretion when your business activities result in potential interaction with the public. 

Am I Allowed to Stay Open Under the Stay-At-Home Order?

Landscape, Lawn care, & Landscape Irrigation - YES

Under the original Executive Order, landscape professionals were covered under the Critical Trades section of essential business functions, although not specifically mentioned. The Dept. of Commerce & Economic Opportunity provides additional clarification in an Essential Business FAQ document  where landscape and lawn service is specifically mentioned on page 4 - VIEW ADDITIONAL CLARIFICATION 

Can residential and commercial lawn service remain open?
Yes. Many landscape projects will fit under an exemption such as construction, agriculture, or public works. Outdoor landscape projects generally will provide for good social distancing that poses little risk of transmission, but it still is important to ensure the ability to wash or sanitize hands and take other precautions.

Nurseries, Growers, Greenhouses - YES

Agricultural production is considered a critical/essential component of the national infrastructure and we expect it will continue to be treated as such. The resource being used to make this determination is from the Department of Homeland Security based on a memo you can VIEW HERE. Page six specifically addresses agriculture production. In Governor Pritzker's Executive Order, the Department of Homeland Security memo is specifically referenced as the source for Essential Business guidance.  Ag production is clearly called out, so there is no question that nurseries and greenhouses should continue maintaining their operation according to recommended CDC guidelines. We have also confirmed this with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. On April 17, the critical infrastructure guidelines were updated to be even more detailed and can be VIEWED HERE

Garden Centers - Yes

On April 23, 2020, the governor announced that as of May 1, he will extend the stay-at-home order through the end of May. The new executive order will include the following modifications for green industry effective May 1:

Greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries may re-open as essential businesses. These stores must follow social distancing requirements and must require that employees and customers wear a face covering.


Requirements for essential stores.  Retail stores (including, but not limited to, stores that sell groceries and medicine, hardware stores, and greenhouses, garden centers, and nurseries) designated as Essential Businesses and Operations under this Order shall to the greatest extent possible:

  • provide face coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain a minimum six-foot social distance at all times;
  • cap occupancy at 50 percent of store capacity, or, alternatively, at the occupancy limits based on store square footage set by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity;
  • set up store aisles to be one-way where practicable to maximize spacing between customers and identify the one-way aisles with conspicuous signage and/or floor markings;
  • communicate with customers through in-store signage, and public service announcements and advertisements, about the social distancing requirements set forth in this Order (Social Distancing Requirements); and
  • discontinue use of reusable bags. 

Households must limit the number of members who enter stores to the minimum necessary.

Many of you have already done the hard work to prepare for allowing customer traffic, and you know that we must we must proceed with an abundance of caution for the safety of employees and customers. This is not business as usual.

1. You must follow CDC guidelines for social distancing

2. Employees and customers must wear a face covering, starting May 1.

3. IGIA has prepared guidelines, gathered from industry sources, that we encourage you to consider RECOMMENDED OPERATIONAL GUIDELINES

4. Let customers know what to expect when they visit. There is a lot of uncertainty and people want to do what's right.  Help customers feel more comfortable by communicating what they will experience and what may have changed since the last time they visited. Let them know what steps you and your team are taking to keep them safe. 

Addressing Customer Concerns

Q: Why should garden centers allowed to be open?  Are they really essential?
Food and agriculture are a vital part of ensuring our economy continues to operate at the highest level.  Garden centers sell edible plants, offer ways for customers to produce fruits and vegetables at home, sell seeds for gardening, firewood, pet supplies, and other household essentials.   These are absolutely household essentials required to keep the food supply going during this critical time.  Spring is the time when many are beginning to plant their home gardens and these supplies are essential.  Whether helping Americans produce home-grown fruits and vegetables, as Americans did during WWII as Victory Gardens, as a mental and physical health relief or providing wholesome activities for children, garden centers offer products and support that individuals and communities can utilize during these stressful times.

Q: Why are lawn and landscape professionals considered essential?  Is the work they are doing really necessary?  Can they do it safely?
Landscape professionals are protectors of public health performing essential treatments to lawns and green spaces to reduce the transmission of dangerous and deadly diseases through pests like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. They protect property and maintain green spaces that could otherwise jeopardize public safety. Unkept fields and green spaces increase the chance of injuries. Crime rates are increased in areas where green spaces are not maintained. Tree removal is also a critical function of our industry to avoid damaging homes and their families.  Landscapers play a critical role in boosting morale and mental health during a difficult time for our Nation. Without landscape services fields, parks, businesses, and homes will become overgrown and unkept, which can have dramatic psychological effects on the mental and well being of our communities.  Spring is a critical time of year for the green industry due to the abundance of growth that requires prompt maintenance and care. Any halt or delay in landscape services during this time of year only magnifies potential safety problems and become much more difficult to maintain later in the year.

Interpreting Governor Pritzker's Stay at Home Order

CLICK HERE to read the full text of the Executive Order

Stay at Home FAQs (including in-language resources) - CLICK HERE


Within the order, Essential Business functions is specifically defined as:

a. Stores that sell groceries and medicine. Grocery stores, pharmacies, certified farmers' markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of groceries, canned food, dry goods, frozen foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries, medicine, including medication not requiring a medical prescription, and also that sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and Essential Businesses and Operations;

b. Food, beverage, and cannabis production and agriculture. Food and beverage manufacturing, production, processing, and cultivation, including farming, livestock, fishing, baking, and other production agriculture, including cultivation, marketing, production, and distribution of animals and goods for consumption; licensed medical and adult use cannabis dispensaries and licensed cannabis cultivation centers; and businesses that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for animals, including animal shelters, rescues, shelters, kennels, and adoption facilities;


h. Critical trades. Building and Construction Tradesmen and Tradeswomen, and other trades including but not limited to plumbers, electricians,  exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, and other service providers who provide services that are necessarily to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses and Operations;

NOTE: The above was taken as an excerpt from the order to offer you the areas that are most applicable to our industry.  For the complete listing of Essential Business functions in the order CLICK HERE

Still have questions about how to interpret this information? Contact IGIA at [email protected] or 217.546.4733.
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