The Government has again confirmed today that construction sites may stay open if they comply with the Safe Operating Procedures (SOP) set out by the Construction Leadership Council. The Scottish Government has taken a more stringent line, saying that only construction sites connected with critical infrastructure should remain open.
However the reality is that many sites are shutting as contractors and developers furlough work forces and the availability of materials becomes a challenge.
Materials in particular for new housing and development sites are increasingly scarce as even if the SOP can be complied with and workers are able to maintain a safe working distance there will be little for them to do if the raw materials that are needed cannot get to site.
Critical infrastructure developments aside (such as the new NHS Nightingale and similar projects), it is difficult to see how other commercial and residential construction sites will be able to continue to operate in the current climate.
However the construction industry is trying to address this. Yesterday the Construction Leadership Council wrote to the PM and in that letter they said:
"I ask therefore that you and your Ministers give very clear and visible encouragement that the production of building materials continues, if at all possible, and that electrical, plumbing and general builders’ merchants remain open so that essential maintenance and construction works can continue – and that the workers doing this are recognised, supported and appreciated. "
Strong leadership from the CLC, which will I hope be answered by the Government.
The Government has confirmed that construction sites should continue to operate during the current Coronavirus pandemic