Lawrence Stephens

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COVID-19: Construction sites may stay open

March 2020

As more and more companies announce the closure of their construction sites, the government’ guidance remains that construction sites may stay open provided the Public Health England (PHE) guidelines, including keeping two-metres from others, can be maintained. Smaller works, such as residential refurbishment works can also continue, provided that the tradespeople are well and have no COVID-19 symptoms and a two-metre distance is maintained from each other. Companies and individuals are also asked to follow the guidance from The Construction Leadership Council and Construction Industry Taskforce on Site Operating Procedures – Protecting Your Workforce.

Graham Watts, chief executive of the Construction Industry Council (CIC) has issued a statement, available here, explaining why some construction sites should close and why some should remain open. He also identifies a non-exhaustive list of critical activities that should continue for public safety. As he says, it is “currently a matter of mess and muddle” and the CIC is working with government to achieve clarity and a “strong central message”.

Whatever a number of contractors are looking to serve notices on their Employers for extensions of time and suspension of work, although clearly there is presently, in the latter case, no actual force majeure event that can be relied on.

We are supporting our construction, developer, finance and supplier clients by supplying them with a brief statement, so that they can issue this to their counterparties to cover the current situation, so as to regularise the contractual position for the benefit of their projects and the health of its workers and participants. Please get in touch with me if you require the same assistance.