Newsom Declines Strict State-wide Restrictions
While there is only one coronavirus, people have quickly learned that communities across the country (and the world) have taken a wide variety of actions to deal with this pandemic. As Governor Gavin Newsom recently reminded, there are “very different conditions in the state of California” than in other states and cities, including New York and Boston. Those locations have imposed COVID-19 construction shutdown rules. In SoCal, construction projects continue with new safety procedures.
California’s statewide shutdown went into effect March 19 as an effort to flatten the curve. During the stay-at-home orders, essential workers have been able to continue on the job. In addition to those on the frontline such as health care employees, SoCal construction workers continue to report to projects such as the 405 improvements in Orange County, as well as bridges in Los Angeles and Kern County.
Things have been different in the San Francisco area where leaders were the first to impose a shelter-in-place order and ban large gatherings that included construction sites. Gov. Newsom said that Bay Area leaders “have a legal right … to go even further” than the state’s order, but he is satisfied with the state’s orders.
“We’re not New York … and we’re going to do everything we can to bend our curve,’’ Newsom said. “We’ve been working very closely with the building construction trades” to ensure public safety.
New York imposed restrictions to shut down construction except for emergency facilities, infrastructure, affordable housing, and homeless shelters. In California, the San Francisco Bay area prohibits most commercial and residential construction.
Economists note that the building industry “is absolutely a critical sector of the economy” and needs to continue to prevent a repeat of the Great Recession, when housing construction went dead for several years, worsening a housing crisis that endures today.
Newsom’s shutdown order has not applied to the vast majority of construction projects in the state because its workers are on projects directly related to critical issues like trade, transportation, health care, supply chain, and state operations.
Safety in construction
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who recently toured a construction site at the Sacramento Convention Center, said he witnessed “strict protocols” in place. “We have to do whatever we can to keep the economy going, while never jeopardizing public health and safety,” he said, adding that sites that are too crowded or close to the public will be shut.
Additionally, Southern California’s construction companies are enforcing new social distancing measures and adapting to a new “business-as-unusual” during these challenging times.
Moving forward with new normal
The Southern California Partnership for Jobs (SCPFJ) has been invited to join the Los Angeles County Infrastructure Development/Construction working group that will report to the Economic Resiliency Task Force. The Partnership will help represent the construction industry to facilitate much-needed infrastructure development. Efforts will include crafting sustainable plans for economic recovery, identifying strategies that will help engage the private sector, and formulating policies to revitalize industries and communities.
Additionally, SCPFJ has launched the RebuildSoCal COVID-19 microsite, dedicated to providing important information, updates, and resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The website is intended to be informative and easy to navigate allowing the Southern California construction industry to obtain relevant content from a one-stop resource.