The programs and initiatives in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was just passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. When implemented, there will be many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain nonprofits and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA. Download FAQ by Clicking Here.
The programs and initiatives in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was just passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. When implemented, there will be many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain nonprofits and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA. Download Guide by clicking here.
Guidance from NALP, Download full document by clicking here.
The landscape industry, including lawn care, landscape maintenance, design/build, tree care, and irrigation and water management, takes employee and client safety and health very seriously, employing regular safety training and enforcing strong safety standards on the job, following Federal guidelines. Landscape Industry firms use regularly scheduled employee training and adherence to Federal, state, and local safety and health standards to mitigate hazardous exposures at landscape work sites.
Landscape professionals maintain and protect the living environments around hospitals, government facilities, housing areas, parks, schools, and more, protecting public safety by:
• performing regular maintenance to mow, prune, control weeds, and inspect for safety and security issues;
• performing essential treatments to reduce the spread of dangerous and deadly diseases transmitted by pests like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas;
• removing fallen trees and mitigating overhead hazards from wind effects;
• providing maintenance and plant removal to assist in fire abatement;
• managing invasive species; and
• keeping public and private pathways free from obstruction and potential risk.
The nature of landscape work, which is performed outdoors, individually, or in small teams with little public contact poses a lower risk of spreading COVID-19. According to OSHA classifications, the landscape industry falls in the “lower risk” category of exposure (the lowest level on their occupational classification of risk for COVID-19).
Landscape Industry companies are instructed to follow all Federal, State, and Local public health and safety directives. The following guidance for the Landscape Industry During COVID-19 have been developed according to OSHA and CDC guidelines and should be observed during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Sanitation and SafetyCOVID-19 is spread from person-to-person, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus is also believed to spread by people touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching one’s mouth, nose, or possibly the eyes. Employers and workers should follow these general practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help prevent exposure to coronavirus:
• Require employees to wash hands with soap and water frequently for at least 20 seconds. If soap and running water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
• Implement social distancing (staying at least 6’ feet apart).
• Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Consider conducting a mandatory temperature check prior to beginning work in the morning; any employee with a temperature over 100.4 F is required to return home.
• Encourage employees to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 if they suspect possible exposure.
• Identify and isolate potentially infectious individuals is a critical step in protecting workers, customers, and others at a worksite.
• Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Institute and enforce strict sanitation standards. Clean and disinfect all work environments and personal protective equipment daily, including machine handles, tools, safety glasses, safety vests, gloves, and soles of boots.
When choosing cleaning chemicals, employers should consult information on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved disinfectants with claims against emerging viral pathogens. Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims are expected to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use of all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, PPE).
Where possible, initiate engineering controls to isolate employees from work-related hazards. In workplaces where they are appropriate, these types of controls reduce exposure to hazards without relying on worker behavior and can be the most cost-effective solution to implement. Engineering controls for SARS-CoV-2 include: installing high-efficiency air filters and increasing ventilation rates in the work environment. install physical barriers, such as clear plastic and sneeze guards where appropriate.
Employee Protocols Support Staff and Office Personnel Companies should establish internal policies and practices, including teleworking or flexible work hours (staggered shifts), that reduce the number of employees at a facility at one time. Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible.
All employees who are not required to be on customer sites performing landscape or those employees assigned to the critical and continued operation of the business entity should be considered for working remotely.”
Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies. Maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Relax policies that require notes from physicians.
Ensure that the company has the information technology and infrastructure needed to support multiple employees who may be able to work from home, and cross-train employees to perform other tasks to prepare for increased sick leave.
There should not be more than 10 employees on-site, and when employees are on site 6’ social distancing should be strictly enforced. The offices should remain closed to the general public while this policy is in effect. Consider increasing janitorial services to assist in continuously disinfecting practices.
Ensure that any training sessions and safety briefings are in a language that crew members can understand.Crew and Field Staff Conduct safety training and staff meetings via video teleconferencing and discontinue group meetings and in-person trainings.
Field crews must understand and be sensitive to the public’s concern about COVID-19 transmission. Provide field staff with talking points to share with the public about their safety protocols and the essential nature of their work.
Field teams should include the least number of employees that can safely carry out work at a site, and crew members should drive separately to the site whenever possible. Only the driver should be allowed to touch the controls anywhere in the vehicle. Gloves should be worn by employees when pumping gas. Client Protocols Contact with clients should be executed via email, phone calls, video teleconference, when possible, and if personal contact is required, then maintain social distancing of 6’ when on the property with the client or their customers or the general public. If in-person contact is required, then maintain social distancing of 6 feet at the client’s or customer’s property, or when communicating with the general public.” Do not leave behind door hangers or other receipts.
Communicate with clients about the current status of allowable work in your state or locality Explain the essential nature of landscape services and detail any operational changes due to COVID-19.
Provide clients 24-hour notification via phone or email that you will be servicing their property.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY REVISES “ESSENTIAL BUSINESS GUIDELINE MEMO TO INCLUDE “LANDSCAPERS”
The DHS CISA has revised its earlier version of its Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce and has issued a 2.0 version. The new version specifically includes the word landscapers under Public Works. Click here to download the full document. The new language is now as follows:
Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, builders, contractors, HVAC Technicians, landscapers, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, businesses and buildings such as hospitals, senior living facilities, any temporary construction required to support COVID-19 response.
Let’s be clear. The CISA document from the federal government is just a guidance document. It is not a law or requirement that US states or local governments follow the guidance in establishing or enforcing their shelter-in-place orders. However, this does give our industry serious legitimacy in negotiations with local elected officials. Many local orders in Texas cite the CISA guidance memo directly.
TNLA has already sent a copy of this revised CISA memo and a letter to Travis County and the City of Austin requesting that they reverse their earlier decision to stop all construction and landscape install of non-critical infrastructure projects. (To view copy of full letter sent to Travis County Judge Eckhardt, click here.) We will continue to do this in any area where local officials disrupt landscape services.
What Can You Do? Share this document with your local elected officials and make sure they understand that the federal government recommends landscapers should be considered “essential business”.
For additional questions email Amy Graham at Agraham@tnlaonline.org.
IMPORTANT UPDATE ON AUSTIN/TRAVIS CO. ORDER – LOCAL GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE ENDS “NON-ESSENTIAL” RESIDENTIAL & COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION
The City of Austin has released a guidance memo on construction as critical infrastructure under the “Stay-At-Home” Order. The guidance can be found here.
Accordingly, the city’s guidance narrows the focus of their previous order.
“In general, commercial and residential construction activities are prohibited under the Order except in the very limited situations where the construction involves one of the specific types of essential and critical facilities listed in Exhibit B, Part 2.p. of the Order. “
This list includes only:
• Public works construction projects
• Affordable housing projects
• Construction of facilities for individuals experiencing homelessness
• Construction of facilities that provide social services
• Construction of facilities that are defined in the Order as Essential Businesses, Essential Government Functions, or Critical Infrastructure
• Construction of facilities specifically required by the City in response to the current COVID-19 emergency
Landscape install projects which do not fall under a category on this list are facing the potential of city citation. The City has declared their intention to not issue citations to companies for violations occurring before 11:59pm March 27th, 2020 if the companies can demonstrate they were shutting down the job site safely.
TNLA is concerned this guidance is in contradiction to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security CISA memo and we believe it contradicts the actions of other major cities like Dallas, Houston, & San Antonio.
TNLA is requesting that all members of this region send in an electronic communication to each office below:
1)Travis Co. Judge
2)Mayor of Austin
3)Your City Councilor
A Sample Letter - Please use this template, modify & customize it and send it on. We need to flood these local offices with these letters.
Travis County Judge
The Honorable Sarah Eckhardt
P.O. Box 1748
Austin, TX 78767
Chief of Staff: Peter Einhorn, firstname.lastname@example.org, (512) 854-9229
City of Austin Mayor
Mayor Steve Adler
301 West 2nd St. (78701)
P.O. Box 1088
Austin, TX 78767-1088
Mayor Pro Tem and District 9 City Council
District 1 City Council
District 2 City Council
District 3 City Council
Sabino "Pio" Renteria
District 4 City Council
District 5 City Council
District 6 City Council
District 7 City Council
District 8 City Council
District 10 City Council
Effective March 26, 2020 at 11 p.m. Hays County issues Stay At Home Orders allowing for residential and commercial construction, read full Order by clicking here.
City of Austin issued a Guidance for the Construction Industry, stating some types of construction activities are "Critical Infrastructure." Click here to download full Order.
We are working around the clock to stay up to date on all current COVID-19 mandates and how this impacts your business. TNLA has reached out to a large number of government offices to take the stand that TNLA Member Businesses are "Essential" to their communities. TNLA has launched a COVID-19 Blog Updates and a Resources Page on TNLAonline.org to provide assistance with frequently asked questions and make new information available.
IF YOU ARE IN A NEW “STAY-AT-HOME” ORDER:
We have provided some important letter templates for members to download and modify to send to your local officials to help defend that your business is "essential" and should remain open. Click here to download these templates. Members, be sure to gain a full understanding of the Disaster Declaration Order for your area and then reach out to your local officials by utilizing these letters as they are important steps YOU need to act on NOW to help avoid being on lockdown!
TEMPLATE LETTERS FOR ESSENTIAL BUSINESS EMPLOYEE:
The county Stay-At-Home Orders are not identical across local governments. Some local jurisdictions have begun to explicitly confirm landscape services are essential. Member companies have requested examples of letters they can give to employees demonstrating their “Essential” status.
*These letters do not constitute a legal opinion. Clarification can best be provided by the County or City issuing the order. Designation as an “Essential Business” does not exempt the business from following CDC guidelines or local social distancing and occupancy requirements*
Retail Garden Centers:
TNLA will continue to provide updates and alerts as the days progress.
*Please remember to continue to observe the CDC guidelines for the best hygienic practices and social distancing in all areas of the industry in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Encourage employees to stay home when ill, wash their hands, sanitize appropriate personnel and equipment.*
For additional questions email Amy Graham at Agraham@tnlaonline.org.
The below is a message from TDA's GO TEXAN program offering a resource guide consolidating Federal and State program initiatives in response to COVID-19, message is as of March 25, 2020
We know that many small businesses have been dealing with issues from COVID-19. With the goal of consolidating federal and state programs into one document, the Texas Department of Agriculture has put together a COVID-19 Resource Guide. We will be updating it periodically as new programs and initiatives are announced.
The below is a message from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts as of March 25, 2020:
These are challenging times for businesses all over the nation. The Texas Comptroller’s office knows that during periods of economic hardship, paying or remitting taxes and fees on time can feel like an extra burden when there’s so much uncertainty. We’re thankful to those businesses that were able to remit state and local sales taxes they collected from customers in February on the March 20, 2020, due date.
We understand that virtually all of our taxpayers are doing their best to remain in compliance and be responsible in submitting the taxes they collected from their customers. With that in mind, our agency is here to offer assistance to those businesses that are struggling to pay the full amount of sales taxes they collected in February.
For businesses that find themselves in this situation, our agency is offering assistance in the form of short-term payment agreements and, in most instances, waivers of penalties and interest.
We ask that you contact our Enforcement Hotline at 800-252-8880 to learn about your options for remaining in compliance and avoiding interest and late fees on taxes due.
In addition, we have a variety of online tools for businesses seeking assistance. See our COVID-19 emergency response webpage for access to online tools, tutorials and other resources for tax services, and to establish 24/7 online account access with Webfile.
We’re standing by to help Texas businesses during these difficult times.
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT ADDITIONAL UPDATES ON TNLA'S COVID-19 RESOURCES CENTER
TNLA COVID-19 Updates
TNLA wants to express our concern for all members and their businesses who are being impacted by COVID-19. While we are all looking to find our path to rewire the way we all do business, TNLA is committed to offering efficient ways to provide your company with member benefits to succeed
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