On Monday, March 23, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued her newest in a series of executive orders — Executive Order 2020–12 (PDF) — related to the COVID-19 pandemic, aka Coronavirus.
This order marks a major shift from merely recommending social distancing, to mandating it. The details are a little complicated, one could even say confusing, but the top-line summary being pushed out to the general public is: “Stay Home, Save Lives.”
One question you probably have is: may I keep operating as a wholesale or retail nursery? The answer is YES. You can keep doing business.
The governor’s executive order took a different approach than similar “stay in place” orders that were adopted in our neighboring states, California and Washington. While those listed activities that are permitted (aka essential services), Oregon’s order lists what is prohibited. If something is not prohibited, it can keep operating. Wholesale and retail nurseries are not listed and therefore are OK to remain open for business if they choose to do so. We have confirmed this with Gov. Brown’s Chief of Staff, Nik Blosser, as well as Alexis Taylor, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
There are some additional requirements to cover:
· Retail businesses, per paragraph 6, must “(designate) an employee or officer to establish, implement, and enforce social distancing policies, consistent with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority.” Per paragraph 7, “Retail businesses that fail to comply with paragraph 6 of this Executive Order will be closed until they demonstrate compliance.” Nearly every retailer we’ve been in touch with has already been implementing the recommended social distancing measures in their stores, so this merely mandates something you are probably already doing.
· ALL workplaces, meanwhile, are required to “facilitate telework and work-at-home by employees, to the maximum extent possible,” per paragraph 9. If that is not possible, they must designate someone “to establish, implement and enforce social distancing policies,” per paragraph 10. They can be closed until they demonstrate compliance.
Worth noting — there is misinformation going around on Facebook, and elsewhere, that workers need to carry a letter with them or in their vehicle as "essential workers." I want to kill that rumor. There is NO "essential worker letter" requirement in Oregon.
Going into this, it was not assured that agriculture, nurseries, greenhouses and garden would be able to keep operating past this weekend.By providing assurances that our industry cares about safe practices, we were able to leave choice in the hands of our member businesses. This is a solid win, and thanks should go to your OAN president, Jim Simnitt, for making a successful appeal to the governor’s office. Your entire OAN Executive Committee and several past presidents have also been a key part of our deliberations as we considered how to address this challenge, and past president Mark Bigej provided key leadership from the retail angle.
There is more good news. We and other statewide business organizations have managed to keep things relatively simple by heading off a rumored attempt by Portland-area mayors to put their own layer of restrictions in place. That would have served no purpose other than to confuse. We have heard back that the mayors were satisfied with the governor’s action and don’t plan to move forward with their own.
These are challenging times for all of us as an industry, state, nation and world. We continue to do our best to defend your interests and provide you with good information. We have established a Coronavirus Resource Page which we update regularly at www.oan.org/coronavirus with state, federal, global and industry resources to help you. We will also continue to keep you informed via emails as developments warrant. Things are changing every day, and that looks to be the only constant.
Thanks for your continued support and for what you do every day. Please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) of any challenges, issues or concerns you have — we're here to help.