By Erin Tiernan
April 1, 2020
Construction during coronavirus a ‘horror show’ says union president calling for ban
The Massachusetts Building Trades Council is calling for a monthlong ban on nearly all construction in the state, citing safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, but Gov. Charlie Baker again on Wednesday declined a further shutdown of the industry.
Baker has continued to allow construction work on health care facilities, transportation, telecommunications and residential projects even as some municipalities have taken it upon themselves to impose stricter shutdowns. The governor has also shuttered schools, all “nonessential” businesses and issued a stay-at-home advisory until at least May 4 in an effort to promote social distancing and slow the spread of coronavirus.
“This country and this commonwealth, by the way, has a terrible housing shortage and not to continue to complete housing projects would be a big mistake,” Baker told reporters on Wednesday.
“Nonessential” construction on office, hotel and commercial projects has stopped, Baker said. Baker has issued a set of guidelines for job sites to follow amid the pandemic. Cities and towns have the ability to impose stricter bans, as has happened in Somerville and Boston.
The Building Trades Council voted unanimously this week to call on Baker to declare a statewide suspension of all regular construction activity.
“The existing order from state leaves too much work ongoing and what I would consider work that can wait. It’s a horror show,” said council President Francis Callahan, describing job sites where workers have no access to protective gear or ability to practice social distancing.