March 24, 2020
An update on the very fluid COVID-19 coronavirus situation and Merrill Services’ operational status.
On Friday afternoon, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed a statewide “stay at home” order, aiming to keep new cases of COVID-19 from rapidly increasing and ensure the state’s health care system remains fully operational to treat patients in need of urgent care.
Merrill Services is in total agreement that this is a necessary step to slow down the trajectory and the spread of the virus. Under this order Illinois residents are required to stay home as much as possible, aside from meeting their basic needs. In addition, all non-essential business and operations must cease, aside from Minimum Basic Operations. Business can continue with employees working from home.
The Governor also listed Essential Business and Operations which included the areas of Essential Infrastructure: Working in food production, distribution and sale; construction; building management and maintenance; airport operations; operation and maintenance of utilities, including water, sewer, and gas; electrical; distribution centers; oil and biofuel refining; roads, highways, railroads, and public transportation; ports; cybersecurity operations; flood control; solid waste and recycling collection and removal; and internet, video, and telecommunications systems.
We are communicating with you today to assure you that landscape services are essential services that must continue during any emergency declaration or quarantine scenario. As of this time, Merrill Services does fall under the construction segment, building maintenance, and maintenance of utilities, we will continue to supply and service our customers. We will also continue to do so under strict safety practices for all of our employees and customers following all of the CDC and WHO recommendations.
This has been further clarified by the Illinois Department of Commerce. “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.”
While the virus poses significantly less risk to crews, since they are working outside in the open-air environment, employee and client safety is of the utmost importance at Merrill Services. With the current public health crisis, every step has been taken to limit staff and client exposure. Here are the steps our company has taken:
- All office staff are working remotely from their homes.
- We have shared up-to-date resources and tools with our team members to help them stay clean, healthy, and informed.
- We have re-emphasized our internal training to focus on frequent and proper hand-washing and personal hygiene.
- All field staff are taking separate vehicles directly from their home to job sites.
- An aggressive sanitation process of tools, trucks, and materials has been implemented, along with a “no sharing” of equipment policy.
- Staff is not venturing into public places, for any reason.
- Employees are not required to work or put themselves in any situation that they deem unsafe.
- A six-foot minimum between all staff has been enforced.
- Employees are not to work if they feel sick at all.
- We are reducing non-essential travel for employees and canceling events and company gatherings to help limit exposure.
- We are asking employees not to travel to any high-risk areas identified by the CDC, and for those that do, to remain away from the workplace for 14 days.
- All in-person client meetings have been canceled. We will still be evaluating properties and speaking with clients over the phone to send estimates.
- Lastly, all formal greetings such as a handshake, will be forgone. However, we will still give you a friendly wave when we see you.
We are committed to providing a safe and operational environment for our staff to continue to serve you. Merrill Services will not stop providing you with the highest quality lawn and landscape service. Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns or would like us to better explain; we are here to help and listen.
If you are not comfortable with us working on or around your property- we will 100% respect that, just let us know
We are partners during this critical time in assisting in the protection of public health and public safety, by:
- providing services to seniors & individuals that are unable to perform themselves or have the knowledge to do so effectively and safely.
- support businesses through maintenance of their property and the landscapes around the roads they travel and utilities they need to remain fully operational.
- performing essential treatments to lawns and green spaces to reduce the transmission of dangerous and deadly diseases through pests like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas.
- protect property and maintain greenspaces that could otherwise jeopardize public safety.
- Maintaining areas that could fostering wild animals and rodents
- Crime rates are increased in areas where green spaces are not maintained
- Removal of trees that could fall injuring people or property.
Without the landscape industry conducting these valuable services, we will undoubtedly see increased instances where people may be injured or become sick from other illnesses compounding our already stretched medical resources.
Landscape professionals do not increase the transmission of COVID-19. We have taken aggressive steps within our organizations to stop the transmission of COVID-19. Because our industry functions outside, this greatly reduces the chances to come into contact with other individuals. Within the industry, strong policies are being put in place to maintain social distancing with both clients and within our teams that are working in the field.
We are all in this together, and we stand with our public officials to stop the rapid transmission of COVID-19 while also continuing to perform those essential functions that are necessary within our communities throughout the Nation.
Thank you for all your understanding during these difficult times.