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Boston Halts Projects; AGC Releases Statement

Thursday, March 19, 2020

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Earlier this week, Boston became the first U.S. city to halt construction activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday (March 17), Mayor Martin Walsh banned all construction in the city for 14 days after reporting that 33 people have been infected with the virus.

In Boston

All projects—regardless of size—are stopped in the city except for what the Mayor called “emergency projects,” such as:

  • emergency utility, road or building work, such as gas leaks, water leaks and sinkholes;
  • new utility connections to occupied buildings;
  • mandated building or utility work;
  • work at public health facilities, healthcare facilities, shelters, including temporary shelters and other facilities that support vulnerable populations;
  • work which ensures the reliability of the transportation network; and
  • other work necessary to render occupied residential buildings fully habitable.

The city will also evaluate projects on a case-by-case basis for exceptions, such as support for public health and safety.

vichie81 / Getty Images

Earlier this week, Boston became the first U.S. city to halt construction activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walsh, who at one point has run the Building Trades Unions organization (which supports this decision), acknowledged that there are more than 100 large projects ongoing in the city. Crews have been directed to maintain the necessary people to secure sites, which needs to be completed by March 23. Afterward, skeleton crews are permitted to ensure safety.

“This is a worldwide pandemic and our public health community has made clear that social distancing is the only way to combat this virus,” said Brian Doherty, the head of the Building Trades, an umbrella organization for Boston.

“We will be working with our unions and with our contractor partners to make sure every worker is safe and secure, and we are confident that by working together as a community, we will get through this difficult time.”

The city is set to reassess at the end of the two-week period.

AGC Statement

The shutdown that has taken place in Boston, though, is precisely what the CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, has recently spoken out against.

Sandherr issued a statement on Tuesday saying that shutting down construction projects is an unnecessary step.

“Halting construction activity will do more harm than good for construction workers, community residents and the economy,” he said. “Construction firms are already acting to ensure the safety and health of their employees in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. These new measures, which include increased hygiene and halting group gatherings of staff, are in addition to the fact construction workers already wear protective equipment, including gloves that will help protect them and their co-workers.

He went on to say that, because of the protective measures already put in place for construction workers, halting construction would only undermine the economy, depriving more people of wages and risking the firms who are under contractual obligations to stay on schedule.

“In addition, halting construction projects will undermine ongoing, and future, recovery efforts in regions hit by natural disasters, and will also undermine any future efforts to expand hospital capacity,” he said.

“In the unfortunate event construction is halted, we urge construction owners to consider continuing their scheduled payments to contractors as a down payment for work to be completed on the project. These payments will help mitigate some of the potential economic impacts of construction shutdowns.”


Tagged categories: Associated General Contractors (AGC); Construction; COVID-19; Government; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Laws and litigation; NA; North America; Safety

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