Covid-19: Gardeners

Yesterday I posted some notes from the daily County conference call which mentioned that questions involving gardeners were a hot topic on the County help line. But it wasn’t clear from the discussion how the latest shelter-in-place regulation applied to gardeners.

Today I learned the answer from city staff (the question was a popular one on the city help line, too): gardening is not considered an exempt business, so having gardeners working on your property is not allowed.

Please note, however, that doing your own gardening is not restricted. The regulations focus on reducing viral transmission via social interaction, particularly social interactions beyond the family1.

As always, please remember that curtailing this business activity is likely to have a disproportionate impact on the less-fortunate members of our community. Mitigating that impact, to the extent you can, would be a community-minded thing to do.


  1. which is why I’m not going to be able to use the regulation to convince my wife to let me out of my share of gardening duties. 

6 thoughts on “Covid-19: Gardeners”

  1. Hi Mark

    I appreciate your messages about what goes on in our community. Keep it up.

    Being under quarantine our homes/property become very important to us. Being able to enjoy our back yard takes on a larger importance while we are in quarantine. I would think if we are to be confined to our homes having someone show up on our property every 2 weeks to make the quarantine more bearable would make a lot of sense. I very much enjoy gardening, I don’t like, want to, or have the tools to do maintenance on 4 tenths of an acre. Gardening and maintenance are 2 very different things.

    It makes more sense than having liquor stores open.

  2. Mark Olbert

    Hi Tom,

    I appreciate your point. But the focus of the regulations is on restricting assemblies of people who might inadvertently transmit the virus through the community.

    I suspect the reasoning behind the regulation is something like this. While business activities, including commercial gardening, don’t necessarily create large assemblies in one place at one time they have a tendency to create virtual assemblies that can get to a problematic size.

    I encourage you to reach out to the County, and specifically the County Public Health Department, to share your concerns.

  3. Tom Quiggle

    How about house cleaners? Do they fit the San Mateo County Public Health Order section 10.f.ix definition of “service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences?”

  4. Mark Olbert

    Hi Tom Quiggle,

    I suspect they are generally prohibited (i.e., except where someone is physically unable to do the work themselves). But I’m not sure and they might be flat-out prohibited.

  5. Hi Mark, please disregard my comment last night on Gardeners and Housecleaners. I’m still torn with causing my gardener and house cleaners financial hardship. I will continue to pay them something but I know some will not be able too. A friend in the medical field told me the 6ft. distance wasn’t enough. It’s a confusing time so I’ll just go with the flow. My complaining or point of view isn’t necessary.

  6. No worries, Joanne, and no need to beat yourself up…because this all new to us.

    BTW, the 6 foot advisory was questioned the other day on a County conference call. Apparently there was some early research that indicated COVID-19 might “lurk” in the air (like measles), making even stricter quarantine rules advisable.

    The County public health official said she was familiar with that early information but that further research had not supported or confirmed it. She said the expert consensus is that 6 feet is still the way to go.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Categories
Archives