Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced on Friday evening that a phased lifting of the COVID-19 restrictions will begin in just under two weeks. Construction is included in the first phase of easing restrictions marking 18 May as the official ‘Back to Work’ day.
In a live broadcast from Government Buildings, Mr Varadkar outlined the five phases which will see an ongoing reduction of restrictions should the current progress being made continue.
The Taoiseach said: “On the 18 of May, Ireland begins to re-open and begins that journey to a new normal. From that day, outdoor work like construction and landscaping will resume. Some retail outlets like garden centres, hardware stores, repair shops will re-open, and some outdoor sporting and fitness activities in small groups will be allowed.
“Many regular health services will resume operating. And it will be possible to meet small groups of friends and family outdoors.”
He cautioned against easing of restrictions too rapidly as to do so would potentially cause us “going back to square one”.
Speaking on Friday’s Late Late Show he restated: “It is intended that all construction will go back, some social housing actually already has, what has to happen now is a lot of work involving the employers, unions, Health and Safety Authority and the HSE to get this right. The construction industry in fairness to them, it’s a very safety orientated industry, they already wear PPE, it’s quite regulated, so I think they will be able to work it out and will be a good example to follow.”
All workers that can work from home should continue to do so until advised.
CIF Director General Tom Parlon commented: “The construction industry has spent the past month preparing for a return to work. We have developed a world-class set of safety procedures so construction sites can operate safely during the pandemic. Construction companies will spend the coming weeks continuing to prepare sites and consulting with employees, clients and government bodies on site reopenings. Reopening sites is critical to restarting the economy. We have requested that our members ask their employees undergo a safety induction programme and over 45,000 have done so in the past fortnight – we expect 75,000 to do so by the end of the week. This will help kickstart the economy as construction is one of the only sectors in a position to continue operating. We’ve seen that no other EU country has shut down entirely their construction industries – so restarting ours can get people back to work and help the exchequer. As an industry, our companies and their employees will work tirelessly but safely to protect their lives, their livelihoods and their communities.”
The CIF has produced a ‘Back to Work Resource Pack’ for construction. Contractors are urged to review and familiarise themselves with the document and implement the guidance.