Confusion has reigned during the course of the day but the picture appears to be becoming clearer.
The prime minister’s announcement of a nationwide shutdown yesterday evening was followed this morning by Michael Gove saying on the Radio 4 Today Programme that construction sites could remain open provided that government guidance on social distancing was followed. Robert Jennick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government later tweeted
- “If you can work from home, do so.
- If you are working on site, you can continue to do so. But follow Public Health England guidance on social distancing.
- Outside of work remember to #StayHomeSaveLives”
However, the Scottish Government has confirmed that it wants construction sites to be closed, and it is currently producing guidance for the industry.
The Construction Leadership Council has published Site Operating Procedures which can be accessed here.
A COVID-19 Construction Industry Taskforce has been formed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to advise the government and industry on strategy and the response to the virus.
During the course of the day, a number of builders’ merchants have closed their doors, so sites may soon have to close in any event because materials are not available.
In addition, many major contractors have taken matters into their own hands and closed sites or withdrawn labour, including many of the major house builders. Work on Crossrail has been suspended.
Site safety, and the safety of the workforce, is paramount, but many construction workers are self employed and are now out of work for the foreseeable future.
We shall keep you posted on future developments.