Big names shut sites despite health secretary advice

25 March 2020 | By Neil Gerrard

Image: Dreamstime/Ilfede

Some of the biggest names in construction have started to close sites in response to the coronavirus outbreak, despite advice from the health secretary that they could remain open if social distancing measures are adhered to.

Yesterday (24 March), health secretary Matt Hancock said that those who cannot do their jobs from home should got to work to “keep the country running”, with construction allowed to continue so long as people remained two metres apart.

But several major contractors have already announced that they are halting at least some of their operations, in response to concerns about worker welfare, as well as following requests from clients.

Among those companies to announce disruption to their operations were:


This should happen across the board, construction companies are taking risks with peoples lives because the goverment are putting economic issues first and not being clear with the construction industry.
Only essential works, repairs to public services, hospitals etc should continue all other works house building, private sector commercial venues etc should shut down now.

steve, 26 March 2020

Has it not occurred to Matt Hancock that it is impossible to work to the 2m social distancing rule, that's why they're closing

Mark Starie-Johnson, 26 March 2020

Three points:

1. Lack of clarity is helping nobody. If loopholes or options or opinions come into play then some people will exploit them and increase the risks to the greater majority.

2. 2m distancing is impossible for meaningful construction.

3. Does this mean construction workers are less valuable than other members of society? That it’s ok for them to take higher risks? We’ve been working tirelessly over the 30+ years of my career to de-risk this industry and get it to more acceptable levels. Now all bets are off?

I’m working in NZ and currently all non essential works are closed. My client is trying to manipulate us to restart works because they are an essential service, but the works we are doing, in our opinion, are non essential. The lawyers are now involved. Just what we all need in times like this - NOT!!!!

Darren Wisbey, 26 March 2020

There are some sub-contractors deciding to cease work during the Corona virus crises. If scaffolder stops work, brick layer can not progress. If plumber stops work, the dry liner can not progress. Hence construction productivity will by default come to a grinding holt any way. The government knows that hence no need to impose on the industry and take burden of heavy self employed claim bills. Contract law is helpless since sub-contractor is acting on self defense against a nasty Virus.

Alister Kalhor, 26 March 2020

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