25th March 2020

Keep two metres apart and you can carry on building

The government’s current official line is that construction sites can keep working if operatives are able to stick to social distancing rules.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock gave the latest update during yesterday’s government briefing on the coronavirus crisis.

He said construction workers could and should continue to go to work as long as they are able to remain two metres apart at all times.

Hancock said people whose jobs has not already been shut down by the government measures to date should continue to work but should only be travelling to a workplace “where that work can’t be done at home”.

He added: “The judgment we have made is that in work, in many instances, the 2m rule can be applied.”

The response came as some contractors and developers started to shut down sites across the country.

The dilemma is particularly acute in London where many construction workers are forced to use limited tube services which are often overcrowded.

Hancock sparked a row with London Mayor Sadiq Khan by demanding that more trains are kept running to allow social distancing measures during travel.

Construction union Unite is warning that social distancing has “collapsed” on construction sites following pictures on crowded jobs .

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “There is an immediate public health emergency on construction sites, due to a lack of social distancing.

“The government must announce they will take urgent action to ensure that construction sites will be safe and if not that displaced workers will have their jobs and income protected irrespective of being directly employed or self-employed

“Contractors also have a moral duty to ensure that all the workers on their sites are safe and financially protected.

“No worker should have to make a life or death decision arising from government or contractor negligence.”

www.constructionenquirer.com

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