New Zealand limits construction for Covid-19, but plans quick start for after

New Zealand has entered "Alert Level 4", meaning only essential businesses can operate throughout the pandemic.

At present, construction is limited to only "essential services and critical infrastructure", which includes the "supply and support chain", according to a statement by the New Zealand government.

Building work to alleviate "health or life safety risks, or to prevent serious environmental harm" is allowed.

While Alert Level 4 is implemented, construction industry leaders have been tasked with selecting which infrastructure projects will restart as soon as possible in an effort to reduce the economic impact of Covid-19.

The Infrastructure Industry Reference Group will assess which private and public projects are "shovel-ready", or can be within six months.

The group’s initial members are New Zealand Transport Agency chairman Sir Brian Roche, KiwiRail chief executive Greg Miller, and Infrastructure Commission chairman Alan Bollard.

Phil Twyford, New Zealand’s economic development minister, said: "We are focused on the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders first and foremost, and we need to get through the lockdown and out the other side of this pandemic. However, the government is also planning ahead for when that time comes.

"That’s why we are now developing a pipeline of infrastructure projects from across the country that would be ready to begin as soon as we are able to move around freely and go back to work.  

"The types of projects the Government would consider funding include water, transport, clean energy and buildings. They would also have a public or regional benefit, create jobs and be able to get underway in short order."

Shane Jones, New Zealand infrastructure minister, said: "While the economic effect of Covid-19 is yet to be fully understood, we know that we have an opportunity to move our country into action mode and the government does not wish to see red tape stymie our eventual recovery.

"The reference group will be seeking out larger projects, those with a value of over $10 million, which would have an immediate stimulatory effect on the construction industry, its workforce and the economy.

"Smaller projects will be considered if they demonstrate a direct and immediate benefit to the regional economies and communities in which they are based. In the meantime, the Provincial Development Unit will continue to work with local councils to identify regional roading projects, particularly in the identified surge regions, to provide employment and boost local economies."

Image: New Zealand government buildings (Brian Scantlebury/Dreamstime)

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