Coronavirus: Construction firms split as shutdown calls grow

Construction firms split as shutdown calls grow

A growing number of construction companies have said they will stop all non-essential work to help fight the coronavirus, but others continue to operate amid confusion over the government’s advice.

Housebuilder Persimmon has joined others in pledging to down tools, while most work has stopped on HS2 rail.

But FTSE 250 listed Redrow is among those keeping sites open.

There is concern the virus will spread easily on busy construction sites.

The government has said work can continue so long as people are 2m (6.5ft) apart, but critics say this is impossible to enforce, and that public health should come first.

Taylor Wimpey, which builds over 10,000 homes a year, said this week that it was closing all of its sites “because we believe it is the right thing to do”.

Barratt, meanwhile, said it would close 400 sites and offices to prioritise “the health and safety of customers and employees”.

Persimmon said it would stop all but essential work, while the majority of HS2 sites had “paused or are pausing construction works,” a spokesperson for the project said.

But Cairn Construction, which built 2,200 homes last year, was among those to say it would keep its sites open.

“Aligned to government guidelines, construction activity continues across each of our active sites under extensive health and safety protocols,” the firm said.

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