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NSW Construction Sector Begs for Lockdown Backflip

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NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian says her government is throwing everything at containing Covid-19 but the construction industry is “begging for a backflip”.

The state has recorded a further 98 cases, 20 of those infectious in the community, with contact tracing revealing additional construction supply businesses affected.

The snap decision to put a construction pause for two weeks was expected to affect around 250,000 workers.

According to the state government, workplaces were the second highest place of transmission after households.

Glass, landscaping supplies, lighting and electrical businesses along with more Bunnings Warehouses were added to the list of exposure sites in the past week.

Urban Taskforce chief executive Tom Forrest said, the construction industry is “begging for a backflip” from the premier and the decision was based on politics not health advice.

“This hasty decision taken on the weekend, without consultation with the industry, wreaks of a government in panic following their indecision and lax attitude to the eastern suburbs Delta strain outbreak,” he said.

“There is simply no published evidence to support the decision to close down the entire construction industry 100 per cent. There is certainly no health advice, based on what Dr Kerry Chant said today.

“Even in the peak of the Victorian closedown, the construction industry stayed open on a scaled back basis. At its worst, Victoria limited numbers on construction sites to 25 per cent.”

During her Covid update, the premier dismissed a question specifically regarding reducing worksite capacity to 25 per cent as seen in Melbourne last year.

Berejiklian said the work was not urgent in the next fortnight and the aim of the pause was to get the construction industry to resume and continue safely, and indefinitely.

“We’re throwing everything at this to make sure we get out of this lockdown as soon as we can,” she said.

“Having the risk of thousands and thousands of people being mobile at the one time, many of them coming from communities who’ve had cases, was too big a risk.

“The treasurer, deputy premier, [and] key senior public servants are meeting, obviously virtually, with the construction sector daily to make sure when they go back to work there are safe workplaces in place.

Related: Covid Closes Down Sydney Amazon Fulfilment Centre

“What we can't have is people, especially those who may not even have symptoms, visiting multiple work sites, visiting construction sites with hundreds of workers and spreading that disease.”

One of the biggest builders in the region—Multiplex—enforced a shutdown of all Greater Sydney sites as per the NSW government’s directive.

“This applies to five sites with a combined workforce of approximately 2000 people,” a Multiplex spokesperson said.

“The health and safety of our workforce and community is our absolute priority.

“While the enforced shutdown clearly brings many challenges for our industry, we recognise the duty we have in limiting movement and supporting the NSW government’s Covid response plan.”

The Covid construction activity pause includes sites across Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour unless there is a safety or security risk, emergency or to use materials that would otherwise deteriorate.

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Article originally posted at: https://www.theurbandeveloper.com/articles/nsw-down-tools-in-covid-construction-pause