Business NSW calls for re-opening of construction sites

Business advocacy group Business NSW is calling on the New South Wales Government to end the COVID-sparked construction shutdown in Greater Sydney four days ahead of plan, on July 26 instead of July 30, calling the shutdown “disastrous for the economy.”

All non-critical construction work was ordered to stop from this Monday, July 19 for two weeks amid official alarm at rising coronavirus cases. Health authorities recorded 112 new cases yesterday from 83,477 tests.

“It is estimated the construction industry closedown is going to cost the NSW economy between $800 million and $1 billion a week, in addition to the wider lockdown making this a $2 billion per week problem for businesses,” Mr Hunter said in a statement.

“Our economy relies on construction, and its supports hundreds of thousands of people and their livelihoods. We would like to see a re-opening of building sites early, in a safe but reduced way,” he added.

Mr Hunter urged the government to allow re-opening of the building sites to allow businesses to develop a COVID safe plan before the official re-opening.

“By announcing a re-opening date of next Monday, it will give those businesses without a proper COVID Safe plan time to develop one, and give an opportunity for businesses to order and receive materials in time for a recommencement of trade,” he said.

He pointed out that when faced with its COVID outbreak the state of Victoria allowed 25 per cent of the regular workforce on site for large construction projects, and a maximum of five workers and a supervisor for smaller jobs.

“For outdoor sites, we should allow a set number of workers per hectare, considering outdoor transmissions of the virus is less of a risk than indoors,” Mr Hunter said.

“Everyone is aware of the dangers of the Delta variant, however the current blanket close down of this industry is disastrous for the economy, with many businesses forced to permanently close.”

ABC yesterday reported that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had refused to confirm that the Greater Sydney lockdown would end on July 30.

“It’s really important for us to not talk about what might happen. Once the number of cases and how they’re transmitting comes through over the weekend and early next week, we’ll have a better sense of what July 31 looks like,” she said.

Construction work has been ordered to stop in Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Shellharbour, and the state of South Australia amidst lockdowns from COVID-19 outbreaks.

The shutdown orders across Greater Sydney are in effect until 11.59pm on Friday 30 July, while South Australia is under Level 5 restrictions until further notice.

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