Boston has become the first US city to shut down all municipal construction projects to prevent the spread of Covid 19.
The move, which becomes effective today, was ordered by Martin Walsh, the mayor of the city, after the number of confirmed Covid cases in Massachusetts rose to 197 on Monday, compared with 164 the previous day.
At a news conference, he described the virus as "one of the greatest public health challenges our city has ever faced", and said the only construction work that would be undertaken for city hall would be emergency projects such as utility connections and street repairs.
He said the ban would last for at least two weeks, after which a review would be held.
The city is presently undergoing a construction boom and the move affects tens of thousands of workers.
As well as halting construction work, Boston has closed libraries and schools and put limits on the number of people who can attend public gatherings. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday suggested that gatherings of 50 or more be cancelled for the next eight weeks.
More than half of the positive tests occurred among people who were at a conference given last month by the biotech firm Biogen.
Elsewhere, New York’s Department of Buildings warned construction sites over the weekend to follow guidance from the city’s Department of Health, but it has not shut down the industry. A Department of Building spokesperson said it would issue further guidance "as needed".
Image: Boston’s Charles River (King of Hearts/CC BY-SA 4.0)