Ireland shuts down construction as Covid cases rise

The Irish government called a halt to all non-essential construction from 6pm Friday, 8 January in response to soaring number of Covid-19 cases in the country.

The shutdown took effect as the government logged a record 8,248 new cases on that day.

Ahead of the shutdown last week, Ireland’s Construction Industry Federation (CIF) suggested the measure wasn’t necessary because the industry was operating safely and because the infection rate among Ireland’s 147,000 construction workers was "considerably below the population average at all times".

"Companies are redoubling their efforts to prevent/screen Covid from being imported from the community after the Christmas period," CIF director general Tom Parlon told The Irish Times.

"Testing, screening and constant communication with sub-contractors and employees is underway. The message is if you are a close contact or exhibit any symptoms do not show up to work."

Parlon remarked that "no other country – barring some US states and Italy in the initial wave – have shut down construction during lockdowns. Most recently, the UK and Scotland have entered lockdown and left construction operational."

The shutdown exempts a range of project types from closing. These include certain healthcare facilities, schools, social housing, works on vacant residential properties controlled by local authorities, and critical transport and utility infrastructure.

Also exempt are certain projects relating to construction at Technological University Dublin Campus Grangegorman.

A comprehensive list of exemptions is available here.

In a note to members, CIF warned: "Any company operating on Monday must recognise that there will be significant attention and scrutiny around all activity. The HSE will continue to monitor incidence on site. The rate of Covid-19 in the community is exceptionally higher than any previous point in time."

It advised companies to follow its updated Covid standard operating, available here.

Image ©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier

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