March 27, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
The city is shutting down most building sites to curb the spread of coronavirus and protect construction workers from getting infected.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared that non-essential construction will end today, effectively bringing the private construction sector to a halt, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on WNYC Friday.
Until now, construction workers had been allowed to continue to work under the state’s “pause” shutdown order because they were deemed as essential workers.
“Anything that is not directly part of the essential work of fighting coronavirus and the essential work of keeping the city running and the state running…is going to end,” de Blasio said in response to an on-air call from a concerned construction worker.
Construction workers have been raising the alarm about contracting the virus on-site and spreading it to their families. Many have said it is impossible to properly socially distance from co-workers at sites due to confined spaces and a lack of proper personal protective equipment.
Our Union, Our Family. #Carpenters build this great city EVERY day. Today, our brothers & sisters built morgues bc of #COVID19. We’ve proved we’re ready, willing & able. We know our work ethic is second to none, but this pandemic is colossal. We WILL prevail, #unionstrong. pic.twitter.com/icL3xNEE9r
— CarpentersNYC (@CarpentersNyc) March 26, 2020
On Thursday, a local carpenters union appealed to Governor Cuomo to narrow the definition of essential worker, saying that its members’ lives were at stake because not all construction work was essential.
De Blasio admitted that the issue had been missed early on as the city attempted to get to grips with COVID-19 spreading.
It is understood that public works like infrastructure, transportation projects, and affordable housing will be allowed to continue. Emergency repairs and hospital building construction will also not be affected.
“Luxury condos will not be built until this is over,” the mayor said.” Office buildings are not going to be built.”