Coronavirus and the construction sector: A further update (as at 7 May 2020)

In our earlier insights, we discussed the guidance of the Scottish Government for the Scottish construction sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 1 May, the Scottish Government updated that guidance.

The updated guidance maintains the previous position of the Scottish Government in relation to essential and non-essential construction works, which we have covered in our earlier insights. However, against a background of increasing calls for the construction sector to “get back to work” and amid talk of easing lockdown restrictions, the Scottish Government has updated its guidance insofar as it related to compliance and future development.

While the updated guidance makes it clear that it is to extend until further notice, the Scottish Government is clearly gearing up to develop a route-map for recommencing certain construction activities within the context of the ongoing pandemic. The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, commented that “particular consideration” is being given to the re-opening of sectors such as construction. The updated guidance states:

“Our next step is developing plans to address the wider issues needed to get the industry restarted again. These are likely to include the easing of restrictions in a phased manner, opening up different parts of the sector, considering different restrictions in different areas dependent on how the pandemic is progressing.”

It appears clear that the Scottish Government intends to use the experiences of contractors and sub-contractors who deployed safe working practices on successful essential sites, such as NHS Louisa Jordan, in order to develop new procedures and processes to allow works to recommence on construction sites more generally. We will have to wait to see what the Scottish Government’s route-map looks like, including whether new detailed guidance is to be provided on the site operating procedures and processes to be deployed.

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