New York City construction sites are returning to life, after about 85 percent of the city’s projects were shut down because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The changes were enacted only after construction workers spoke out in mid-March over workplace conditions, including a lack of protective gear and a reluctance to enforce health measures like social distancing.
The New York Times reports that about 5,200 construction projects were operating again as of April 28. These included the Spiral office tower at Hudson Yards, One Vanderbilt near Grand Central Terminal and home renovations in Far Rockaway,
Earlier, about 85 percent of the city’s construction sites operating before the pandemic had come to a halt after the state revised its order and deemed them nonessential. “But every day hundreds of job sites have opened back up as developers, contractors and labor groups have lobbied officials to get them running again,” The Times reported.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that the construction industry will be among the first groups of “low-risk” businesses that will be allowed to return to normal, as soon as mid-May.
Safety measures including extensive hand-washing and tool disinfectant processes, as well as social distancing measures and revised work schedules — backed by plenty of inspections — explain how an increasing number of job sites are reactivating.
“I would have to say that the industry has evolved very rapidly to adapt to our current environment regarding the coronavirus,” Gary LaBarbera, the president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, told the Times. His group represents more than 100,000 union members.
The Times says representatives of contractors and labor unions are pushing the city to allow 24-hour construction at some locations, reducing the number of workers on sites at any one time.