The Virginia Turfgrass Council represents a multibillion-dollar Virginia industry. Our members and affiliates nurture the entire green environment. From sports fields to wildlife meadows, from home landscapes to living roofs, and from golf courses to wetlands, our industry is hard at work. I am writing on their behalf to express concerns regarding the proposed Permanent Standard Infectious Disease Prevention for the SARS-CoV-2 Virus that Causes COVID-19.
Our primary concern lies not with the need to protect customers, employees, and employers from the virus. Months of proactive steps taken by turfgrass and landscape businesses clearly reveal our commitment to that need. In early spring, when Governor Northam was contemplating shutting down certain business activities in order to protect Virginians, our industry was allowed to continue operating. Lawns were cut, landscapes were installed and maintained, sensitive environmental sites were protected, and many other services were preformed while adhering to – or even surpassing – SARS-CoV-2 safety recommendations and mandates.
The precedence of converting a temporary, emergency measure designed for a specific virus to a permanent mandate concerns us. While the SARS-CoV-2 virus will likely not fully disappear, its impact on our society will diminish. Effective vaccines currently being developed will become widely available and treatment options will continue to improve. Experts predict at least one vaccine will be approved and distributed within the year. Treatment options for persons with COVID-19 have vastly improved since the pandemic began. In the coming months, treatment options will increase to minimize the virus’ effects.
The turfgrass and landscape industries applaud the Department of Labor and Industry for its work in protecting Virginians. The Emergency Temporary Standard enacted on July 27 is just one example of that great work.
Going forward, we ask the Department of Labor and Industry to look to the future. Please do not lock the entire state into a permanent set of regulations tied to particular methodology applicable at a particular point in history designed for a specific disease.
Executive Director, Virginia Turfgrass Council