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Construction industry downs tools as part of lockdown

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THE ISLAND’S main construction firms have stopped work as part of the island’s lockdown.

Builders have downed tools and are staying safe at home during the virus lockdown.

There has been confusion in the UK over Boris Johnson’s government advice, but in Guernsey it has been decided to close construction sites.

Grant Meerveld from Meerveld & Sons said everyone had to help in the fight against the virus.

‘We build houses, so that’s not as essential as building hospitals or roads, and we felt as though we should do the right thing and we all need to do our bit, even though it’s painful.

‘We were trying to comply with the social distancing, but I think we also have to be seen to be doing the right thing because we’re all in this together. If we don’t work together then this outbreak could get out of control.

‘Also, we’re being led by the guidance from Public Health and I think it’s pretty obvious that they expect us to close, so we have to comply with that.

‘On top of that, a lot of the builders’ merchants are closed, so there’s a cascade effect and we wouldn’t be able to stay open anyway.’

At Rihoy & Son it was a similar picture. Their sites were open yesterday morning only for collecting tools and belongings and for the site managers and foremen to secure the areas and make them safe.

Sites under RG Falla were also being shut down yesterday following the States crackdown on non-essential work where social distancing is difficult.

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The nature of building sites meant that maintaining two metres distance was challenging because of the amount of lifting, shifting and sharing of tools.

The number of shared surfaces on construction sites is also higher compared with offices, where people can stake out their territory more easily.

Yesterday sweeping new measures came into force in Guernsey with the closing of non-essential shops and services and an end to public gatherings.

There are only four exceptions to the ‘stay at home’ rule. These are shopping for basic necessities, a medical need or providing help to a vulnerable person, travelling to and from work, and up to two hours of exercise a day.

The island’s main builders are in agreement that health reasons must guide all decision-making.

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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