What is a Covid-19 Red Cluster Zone?
Posted by: Admin, November 15, 2020
Unfortunately, our Covid-19 infection rates are going up, perhaps not as drastically as some parts of the county, but the upward tick is concerning. We’re all tired. And frustrated. But, please, stay the course and continue to be careful and follow all recommended guidelines and safety precautions. For yourself, your family, your co-workers, and your community.
What could this uptick potentially mean for our horticultural businesses? This fall we moved away from the phased in reopening plan that operated on a regional basis to a more focused ‘Cluster Zone Action Initiative’. There are a few factors that go into what puts a particular geographic area into a ‘Yellow Precautionary Zone’, an ‘Orange Warning Zone’, or a ‘Red Micro-Cluster Zone’. You can read the details here: https://forward.ny.gov/cluster-action-initiative. Currently, there are no areas in Suffolk that are categorized as any of these zones, though there are areas in other parts of NYS that are. Find maps of the current zones here: https://forward.ny.gov/.
What happens if your neighborhood becomes classified as one of these zones? There will be some restrictions put in place; think of it as us moving backwards in our re-opening phases. You can find a summary table of the restrictions here: https://forward.ny.gov/cluster-action-initiative, and additional details on the guidance here: https://esd.ny.gov/ny-cluster-action-initiative-guidance. High risk businesses are limited in Orange Warning zones, and only essential businesses can remain open in Red Micro-Cluster Zones.
Let’s hope that areas in Suffolk don’t end up as a Red Micro-Cluster Zones. But what if they do? Remember that landscaping, gardening, and horticulture are at this time considered essential businesses and services. In Red Zones essential businesses will be able to remain open, though at a reduced capacity. However, communication from NYS Department of Ag & Markets indicate that ag businesses will be restricted to essential services only — any nonessential activities associated with agritourism will not be permitted. For example, this means that Christmas tree farms will only be able to sell trees and horticultural products and not offer other agritourism activities.
Let’s hope we don’t have to worry about this. But take a few minutes to consider how this may and may not affect you and your business and have a plan in place. Let me know what questions you have and I’ll try to get answers.
Relief Funding for Losses Due to Covid-19 Still Available
The USDA has announced additional funds in a second round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments (CFAP 2). Sign up is through December 11, 2020. Specialty crops, including floriculture and nursery, are included.
A complete list of eligible commodities, payment rates and calculations are available on farmers.gov/cfap. You can also contact Joanna Pontino at our local USDA Farm Service Agency office, 631-727-5666 or email@example.com.