The Scottish government has announced that non-essential work on construction sites should stop immediately.
Scottish ministers confirmed the move in new guidance for the construction industry. The guidance makes clear that work on construction projects should cease unless it is supporting crucial work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Any project deemed essential can only continue operating if it can comply with guidance on social distancing, safety and welfare during the COVID-19 outbreak. Any site unable to meet these requirements should close.
Essential projects include:
- Those to create or repurpose facilities which will be used directly in COVID-19 related activities;
- Projects to create or repurpose facilities which will be used to accommodate key workers, or free up space in facilities to be used directly in COVID-19 related activities;
- Projects which are considered essential public services;
- The repair and maintenance of critical infrastructure.
Fiona Hyslop, Scottish economy secretary, said: “We recognise that this is an extremely difficult time for businesses of all kinds, but the Scottish government’s priority is saving lives and fighting COVID-19.
“To this end, all construction sites should close unless they are essential to the health and welfare of the country during this crisis. I want to make clear our thanks to the construction workers who are continuing to work on these essential projects.
“This guidance offers clear and comprehensive advice on how the industry should respond in these unprecedented and difficult times. I am grateful to the STUC, Unite the Union and Construction Scotland for their input.
“In this public health emergency it is vital that all businesses act responsibly and align fully with the social distancing measures introduced to protect the nation’s heath, well-being and economic future.”
The guidance from the Scottish government describes its Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) sectors as those that define the facilities, systems, sites and networks necessary for the functioning of the country and the delivery of the essential services upon which daily life in Scotland depends.
There are 13 designated CNI sectors:
- Communications – Telecommunications, Public Broadcast, Postal Services, Internet;
- Civil nuclear;
- Water and waste;
- Emergency services.
Even where businesses are in the CNI category and judge themselves to be exempt from closure of business premises, the Scottish government guidance says it is imperative that they keep open only those premises or parts of premises that are truly critical or essential to the national COVID-19 effort.