Construction clients need clarity from NI Executive on COVID-19 restrictions

17 April 2020

The architects of Northern Ireland today make a public plea to the Northern Ireland Executive to provide clarity to construction clients on what construction activities are allowed to be undertaken over the next 3 weeks in light of the measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the region. 

For two weeks the wider construction sector has been seeking clarity from the Finance Minister but no response has yet been received.  

Joan McCoy, President of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects, said, 

“The UK Government’s position is that all construction sites can remain open. On the other hand, the Government of the Republic of Ireland decided at the end of March that only essential construction services should continue such as activities relevant to the COVID-19 crisis, critical transport and utility infrastructure and the delivery of emergency services to businesses and homes. Scotland has also decided that only essential construction activities should go ahead. This is a devolved matter but the position in Northern Ireland is grey.”

“Essential construction work must continue and I applaud everyone currently engaged in this important and at times risky work. However, we need the Northern Ireland Executive to be clear as to whether all non-essential construction services can take place over the next 3 weeks. It is the view of RSUA that if all non-essential construction activities are allowed, that this should be on the proviso that robust social distancing measures and other infection control measures can be implemented. In many cases this will not be possible and in these cases construction activity should not proceed.”

“Over the next three weeks efforts should be focused on developing economically viable protocols to reduce infection risk on sites in such a way that does not increase the risk of injuries or fatalities.  Such protocols would be implemented to enable a fuller return to work at a time deemed appropriate from a public health perspective.”

“But for now, clients, architects, builders, suppliers and building control officers urgently need clarity from the Northern Ireland Executive on whether non-essential building sites should be open on Monday or not.”