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Coronavirus: ll Sites Must Comply With COVID-19 Regulations

The Construction Industry Federation is urging all members to ensure that strict safety and hygiene protocols are being followed on all sites, saying that members have 48 hours to comply with coronavirus guidelines or face having their sites shut down.

The CIF also asked for members to have a designated person on every site who ensures that COVID-19 protocols are being followed.

The trade union movement has called for all non-essential building sites to be closed until it is shown that they are compliant with measures to protect staff against the coronavirus.

In a letter to the CIF, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) said all construction sites deemed to constitute “essential services” should be identified immediately and assessed to ensure their full compliance with public health advice on dealing with Covid-19 and health and safety legislation.

ICTU also said that fully-appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) should be supplied to all workers on these sites.

Speaking on Wednesday evening, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that there may be sites where social distancing could be a problem, and they might have to shut down non-essential sites.

With political pressure growing, the coming hours will be critical for the construction sector to demonstrate to the public and the political system that the required safety measures are being adhered to.   

Impact of COVID-19 on Planning Applications

In other COVID-19-related news, the new Emergency Measures Bill was passed by the Dail on Thursday 26th March.

According to the CIF, Part 3, Section 9 of the Bill would allow an extension of current statutory time limits on all planning related matters during the period of the emergency. The extension would begin on the signing of a Commencement Order on a future date selected by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. The end date will be selected by the Government and may be extended several times, subject to a long-stop of 9 November 2020. 

The CIF says that the freeze does not prevent new applications being made for planning permission. However, no decision can be made, as the public consultation window cannot close. For current applications, planning authorities can make decisions during the extension. However, this applies only where the public consultation window has closed before the start of the emergency period.

For pending appeals to An Bord Pleanála, in line with the public consultation window, a window for legal challenges will remain open until the extension ends. Where no public consultation is required, An Bord Pleanála and Planning Authorities can decide to grant permission where appropriate.