Like Pennsylvania and New York, New Jersey has now shuttered all non-essential businesses. On Saturday governor Phil Murphy made the announcement, which exempts construction from the closures.
From Governor Murphy’s official order:
Examples of employees who need to be physically present at their work site in order to perform their duties include, but are not limited to, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and other first responders, cashiers or store clerks, construction workers, utility workers, repair workers, warehouse workers, lab researchers, information technology maintenance workers, janitorial and custodial staff, and certain administrative staff.
“UTCA has been working in concert with the Governor’s office to ensure our industry can follow health safety guidelines and keep working. In a conversation with CEO Bob Briant, Jr., the Governor clarified that construction support services are also allowed to remain open,” according to a UTCA email.
In addition to working with the governor’s office, the UTCA has been trying help with the shortage of medical supplies, asking members to donate N95 masks. As of a tweet on Friday, 280 masks had been donated.
As of 9 a.m. Tuesday March 17
For most companies in the construction industry, it remains business as usual with bid openings and construction continuing, states are stepping in to suspend some projects as part of the extraordinary measures being taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is suspending all construction projects through March 30, but PennDOT crews will be available for “critical functions and emergency maintenance.”
In Bergen County, NJ, county executive Jim Tedesco ordered all construction suspended and utility roadwork done only in emergency situations. It remains to be seen if this is enforceable or companies will follow Tedesco’s order or fight it.
But while non-emergency construction was being suspended in some places, the governors of New York and New Jersey are looking to turn college dorms, former nursing homes and other buildings into medical facilities to treat patients as hospitals are expected to be overwhelmed. Private developers, construction workers, and the National Guard are expected to be needed for these emergency projects. The plan is currently a backup in case the federal government does not meet his request to send the Army Corps of Engineers to build temporary hospitals.
Before state and local governments began enacting these more extreme measures to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the disease and its impact on hospitals, there have been reports of specific sites across the country shutting down after a worker tested positive and companies taking precautions to keep workers safe.
The Associated General Contractors has a webpage dedicated to the virus with information about symptoms and what constitutes a reportable workplace illness. “AGC will continue to monitor the situation and update the information on this page accordingly,” the site said.
Over the weekend, the Centers for Disease Control recommended no groups with more than 50 people for approximately eight weeks.