Against the background of significant differences in the guidance from the UK and Scottish Governments on how the construction sector should be dealing with COVID-19, which we’ve touched upon in an earlier insight, the First Minister, yesterday, began talking about a plan to ease the construction sector in Scotland back to work generally.

The indications are that the Scottish Government has been working closely with the Construction Leadership Forum to put together a phased plan, the ‘Construction Re-Start Model’, to achieve that end.

The various phases under discussion are:

  • Phase 0: Planning (the point things are at now)
  • Phase 1: COVID-19 Pre-start Site Prep
  • Phase 2: ’Soft start‘ to site works (only where physical distancing can be maintained)
  • Phase 3: Steady State operation (only where physical distancing can be maintained)
  • Phase 4: Steady State operation (where physical distancing can be maintained and/or with PPE use)
  • Phase 5: Increasing density/productivity with experience

If things progress well enough on the details by a review on 28 May, it is hoped that the sector might move to Phase 1 at around that time – the advance preparation of non-essential sites. The work in that stage will be that considered necessary to facilitate physical distancing requirements and enhanced hygiene, including installing new or expanded site welfare and toilet facilities, one-way systems and marking 2m distances throughout the site.

Progress to Phase 2 is likely to involve obtaining specific approval from the Scottish Government, which may not approve such a move without a minimum of two weeks’ notice after it publishes updated advice.

It appears that the phased approach will replace the ‘Coronavirus ( COVID-19): construction sector guidance’ published by the Scottish Government on 1 May.

Clearly things may change, but 28 May seems a crucial date as far as progressing to Phase 1 is concerned. Watch this space for more details as they become available.