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Sun May 19 2024

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Construction to keep working through second lockdown

2 Nov 20 Prime minister Boris Johnson has ordered a second national lockdown to slow the spread of Covid-19 but this time he is clear that construction sites keep working.

When the first national lockdown was called in March 2020, many construction sites shut their gates. House-building sites, in particular, were closed for several weeks. Those that chose to keep working were subjected to social  media pressure to “#shutthesites”.

Only after new operating procedures were devised and implemented were construction sites able to re-open, with social distancing protocols and new hygiene procedures. Often this meant fewer people on site at any one time but longer site opening hours.

The disruption cost the industry billions of pounds. House-builder Barratt Developments alone had to absorb £74m of direct Covid-19-related costs by the end of June.

For the second national lockdown, starting on Thursday 5th November 2020, there should be no such disruption, or at least on nowhere near the same scale: Covid-resistant operating procedures are already in place across the industry and the prime minister was clear in his address to the nation on Saturday evening that “Workplaces should stay open where people cannot work from home – for example, in the construction or manufacturing sectors”.

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Tradespeople can also continue to work in customers’ homes as long as both the worker and household members have no symptoms of coronavirus.

The coronavirus job retention scheme – the furlough scheme – will now remain open until 1st December, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500.  The job support scheme, which was scheduled to come in on Sunday 1st November, has been postponed until the furlough scheme ends.

Build UK has produced an authorisation letter template for employers in the event of workers being stopped on journeys to and from sites anywhere in the UK.

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