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New York State, Pennsylvania Halt Construction

The economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic deepened with the news that construction would be halted on all "non-essential" construction in the state of New York and in Pennsylvania.
March 30, 2020, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Construction Industry
A construction worker in Buffalo, New York on March 25, 2020.
Michele Lynn jasen

On March 26, news was starting to spread around construction sites in Philadelphia that work would be stopping as a result of an order last week by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. "The City of Philadelphia allowed an additional eight days, until this Friday evening to close their construction sites," reports Jake Blumgart.

In Blumgart’s article, the concern immediately turns to construction workers, especially workers on small residential projects, which mostly include on-union immigrants. There are also concerns about protecting projects from the elements and thieves during the work stoppage, which explains the eight-day grace period allowed in the city of Philadelphia.

On March 27, the state of New York ratcheted up its work stoppage guidelines for construction projects, by order of Empire State Development, the umbrella organization for New York's two principal economic development public-benefit corporations, the New York State Urban Development Corporation and the New York Job Development Authority.

"The order from Empire State Development will temporarily suspend a wide swath of residential and commercial construction, while allowing some work deemed necessary — like building hospitals, infrastructure projects, affordable housing and homeless shelters — to continue," report Janaki Chadha. 

"The new restrictions follow a wide-ranging order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week that deemed all construction 'essential' — spurring pushback from elected officials and workers who had to report as usual to job sites around the city while the in-person operations of numerous other industries were halted," adds Chadha.

In each case, the question of what kind of construction work qualifies as "essential" during the pandemic is central to each state's situation. In each case, the construction of hospitals and other medical facilities are considered essential. In New York, essential construction also includes infrastructure projects, affordable housing, and homeless shelters.

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Published on Thursday, March 26, 2020 in WHYY
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