Scotland set to reopen construction sector


Scotland's minister for local government, housing and planning, Kevin Stewart, has written to the chair of Construction Scotland approving work to get the infrastructure sector back up and running in the devolved nation.

The Scottish government has already imposed new guidance on transport as part of its national phased reopening plans. Scotland is set to move to Phase 1 of its strategy for gradually reopening the economy from 28 May.

Mr Stewart said in a letter last week to Ken Gillespie, chair of Construction Scotland: 'I recognise that the 6-step phased model developed by the sector matches the managed transition that the Government is working to deliver in coming weeks and months.

  • Phase 1: Covid-19 Pre-start Site prep
  • Phase 2: “Soft start” to site works (only where physical distancing can be maintained)
  • Phase 3: Steady state operation (only where physical distancing can be maintained)
  • Phase 4: Steady state operation (where physical distancing can be maintained and/or with PPE use)
  • Phase 5: Increasing density/productivity with experience

He wrote 'We also believe that, subject to positive outcome from the review on May 28th we are now ready to move to your Phase 1, the advance preparation of non-essential sites. The work in this stage will facilitate physical distancing and enhanced hygiene, including installing new or expanding existing site welfare and toilet facilities, “one way” systems and marking 2m distancing throughout the site.'

Depending on the evidence emerging from this initial stage, Mr Stewart said: 'We can then look forward to commencing Phase 2 – Soft Start, with its phased return of a proportion of the workforce.

'I note your commitment that no element of non-essential works requiring the use of PPE above the standard industry use, will commence at this stage.

'We will also require you to consult with government for agreement before progressing to Phase 2, and in any case will not approve such a move until a minimum of 2 weeks after we publish updated advice, though we will keep this under review.'

Scotland imposed tighter lockdown restrictions on construction work than Westminster in March, with the sector all but shutting down.

Ms Sturgeon said to MSPs: 'We have been asked specifically about construction sites in Scotland. Our current advice, on the basis of the precautionary principle, is that we expect them to be closed, unless the building that is being worked on is essential, such as a hospital.'

Transport Scotland confirmed that it would close all major road construction and work sites except for essential maintenance to fix defects.

This is in contrast to Highways England which operated as close to business as usual as possible, while adhering to public health guidelines on practices such as social distancing.

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