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Varadkar says he will raised the question with NPHET. Ryan Fagan

'They won't be able to cut the grass in a few weeks': Calls for landscapers to be made essential workers

Grass will not be able to be cut if allowed to grow for weeks on end, it has been warned.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said he raised the question with the national public health emergency team about whether landscapers can be included on the list of essential workers.

Galway TD Noel Grealish raised the issue with Varadkar in the Dáil this week stating that he knows a number of gardeners and landscapers have written to the Taoiseach about their concerns.

“They are being told that they cannot cut grass. They tell us that if they are not allowed to do it, and in two or three weeks’ time, they will be unable to cut the grass in housing estates, because it will have gone out of control. These are usually one-person operations,” said Grealish.

The Taoiseach said he would raise the matter but said he was concerned about tweaking the list.

“I will certainly take up the question of the landscapers and whether they can be included with the national public health emergency team. However, a decision was made – and the Government endorsed the decision – not to make any modifications between now and 5 May,” he said.

Varadkar added:

The view taken by NPHET, which we endorsed, was that we could send out mixed messages or create confusion if we started tweaking the rules every couple of days or weeks. The rules that were imposed will stay as they are, unchanged, until 5 May.
Any change from then on will be announced prior to that date.

They need to be included on the essential services list, Grealish told, stating he is unhappy with the Taoiseach’s response.

“I will be asking him to reconsider. If we wait another three weeks, the grass will be too high and coarse for gardeners to cut. It is going to cause a big problem,” he said.

Grealish said landscapers are often a one-person operation.

It is understood that there are mixed messages when it comes to landscaping, with some local authorities hiring landscapers, while private operations cannot.

shutterstock_1077117455 Shutterstock / BOKEH STOCK Shutterstock / BOKEH STOCK / BOKEH STOCK

Adam Egan Landscapers, based in Bray, spoke to about some of the issues that are arising under the restrictions.

“Councils have contracted many companies to keep parks and communal areas maintained, but many housing estates/ residents committees and management companies hire their own grounds maintenance company to carry out the work.

“These places are seeing neighbouring estates getting cut, whilst they can do little about their own,” he said.

In terms of elderly people who are cocooning, many cannot get the tools or petrol for their lawnmowers to maintain their gardens, he said.

“Many people employ gardeners and therefore have no lawnmowers, shears or gardening tools to do keep their gardens for themselves. They have been left with a garden growing at its quickest, unable to tend to it while also being told to stay at home,” he said, adding that it is tough to stay in and watch as your garden overgrows.

The timing of these restrictions is another issue.

“It’s the season of most growth and gardens (particularly grass) will be shooting up rapidly at this time of year. Gardeners put their heart and soul into the same gardens all year round, but it’s a necessity to keep on top of grass cutting as if it is left lawns will suffer damage from being cut too drastically when normality returns. It could take weeks and numerous visits to get back in order,” said Egan.

Gardening and landscaping is a job that can be done in isolation, said Egan.

“Most gardens require no interaction between client and customers. Gardeners can access gardens easily without touching any doors or dealing with anyone. Payments are done by many through bank transfer, so again, no interaction or contact is necessary.

“Many days I wouldn’t interact with anyone from when I leave my family in the morning till I return in the evening,” he said.

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