Last week the Government confirmed that the current lockdown was to be extended by at least three weeks, which means that construction sites must continue to implement the Site Operating Procedures – Version 3 for the foreseeable future.
The announcement followed the latest industry conference call with the construction minister Nadhim Zahawi, where Mark Reynolds, Chief Executive of Mace, and Julie White, Managing Director of D-Drill and a specialist contractor member of the Drilling and Sawing Association (DSA), gave a first-hand update on the current challenges faced by the supply chain.
The Minister recognised that companies are making some tough decisions in extremely challenging circumstances and there has been some opposition to sites remaining open, especially via social media. Confirming that construction sites of all types should continue to operate, he welcomed the publication of the latest version of the Site Operating Procedures as a great demonstration of an industry working together.
In a statement Build UK said: “The consistent message given by industry representatives was that construction is an ‘ecosystem’ and, in order to support the Government’s response to Coronavirus, the whole supply chain needs to be operational and working collaboratively. Resorting to entrenched contractual positions would be extremely damaging to the industry and have a significant impact on its ability to meet future infrastructure needs.”
Projects are adapting site facilities and introducing extended working hours, and Highways England, Wates and VolkerWessels UK have all shared examples of how social distancing is being achieved.
Highways England also reported that it had made significant progress on its works over the Easter weekend, with traffic down by 80% in some areas. The Minister confirmed that he would look at other public sector work that could be accelerated in the current circumstances.