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WA Halts Construction; Boston Extends Pause

Monday, March 30, 2020

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Last week, another state added to the list of places in the United States to halt construction in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the city of Boston (the first entity to halt construction completely in the U.S.) extended its moratorium indefinitely.

Washington’s Mandate

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released a construction-specific clarification last Wednesday, that specified that most construction under the state’s stay-at-home mandate is not considered essential activity.

Inslee is one of the few officials to list out specific construction occupations covered in the ruling.

oksanaphoto / Getty Images

Last week, another state added to the list of places in the United States to halt construction in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exceptions for the order include:

  • Construction related to essential activities as described in the order (these included healthcare, transportation, energy, defense and critical manufacturing);
  • Construction to further a public purpose related to a public entity or governmental function or facility, including but not limited to publicly financed low-income housing; or
  • Construction to prevent spoliation and avoid damage or unsafe conditions, and address emergency repairs at both non-essential businesses and residential structures.

“To that end, it is permissible for workers who are building, construction superintendents, tradesmen, or tradeswomen, or other trades including, but not limited to, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, laborers, sheet metal, iron workers, masonry, pipe trades, fabricators, heavy equipment and crane operators, finishers, exterminators, pesticide applicators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC technicians, painting, moving and relocation services, forestry and arborists, and other service providers to provide services consistent with this guidance,” the statement said.

Boston’s Extension

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced last week that the pause on city construction—that was initially slated to run through April 6—will be in effect until further notice.

"The safety and health of construction workers and all residents of Boston is my first priority, and I am not willing to put that at risk as the virus spreads throughout our communities," said Walsh.

"Large gatherings such as those at construction sites have been proven to escalate the spread of the virus, and Boston must do everything in its power to flatten the curve and stop the spread of coronavirus."

In the initial announcement on March 17, Walsh listed exceptions to the mandate, which include:

  • 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.

According to the statement, though, the mayor is working with several firms to determine protocols that would allow general sites to safely reopen.

The city is also still reviewing requests for exemptions on a case-by-base basis.

Other Areas

Also on March 17, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission ordered all contractors to cease work on current projects for a minimum of two weeks.

According to reports, Pennsylvania is the first state in the nation to suspend infrastructure-based construction as a result of the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ohio Department of Transportation, on the other hand, has reported that it will continue to stay on schedule with ongoing infrastructure projects.

View all of PaintSquare Daily News' coverage on COVID-19, here.


Tagged categories: Construction; COVID-19; Government; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Laws and litigation; NA; North America; Regulations; Safety

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