San Francisco stops commercial and residential construction

Six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area banned all but essential construction yesterday to limit the spread of the coronavirus, putting a stop to office, hotel and market-rate residential projects, which had been exempt under a previous stay-at-home order.

The order excludes pandemic-related healthcare projects, housing and mixed-use schemes that are at least 10% affordable, and other work deemed necessary to help vulnerable people, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. 

The six counties are Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara.

"Our collective efforts have so far been beneficial in slowing the spread of the virus, but more is needed to prevent hospitals from being inundated and to save lives," said John Coté, spokesman for San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

"The new order does indicate that more commercial and resident construction must stop, with exceptions made for projects that help keep people safe and help keep people housed."

The Chronicle notes the effect the ban will have on people’s livelihoods, reporting California Governor Gavin Newsom as saying that more than 150,000 Californians filed for unemployment insurance on Monday, the day before the San Francisco construction ban.

In all, more than 1.6 million Californians have applied for relief since the outbreak began.

One contractor affected is Build Group, which must shutter its commercial and high-end housing schemes.

"We are still trying to parse what this thing means," company president Ross Edwards told the newspaper.

"We have projects for Amazon. We have projects for Facebook. All of those will now shut down."

Other cities in California are torn between keeping the construction industry going and clamping down on the virus.
Los Angeles has not stopped construction, but wants sites to be safer.

Last night Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted: "We’re taking more steps to protect all Angelenos by requiring construction companies in @LACity to develop a COVID-19 plan with protocols for symptom checking, physical distancing, hygiene, and decontamination. Inspectors will visit sites to enforce these safety protocols." 

Image: San Francisco (King of Hearts/CC BY-SA 3.0) 

Around the world, governments have varied in their response to construction and the coronavirus. See also:

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