Residential construction to resume on Friday with 'strict requirements'

By Jasper Lindell

The residential construction industry will resume on Friday as planned, Chief Minister Andrew Barr says.

Mr Barr said there will be stringently enforced COVID safety requirements in place in order to reduce the risk to workers.

"There is to be no interaction between workers and residents within a construction site, a renovation site, any premises," Mr Barr said.

Mr Barr said the safety guidelines for the ACT reflected what was in place in NSW.

Large-scale sites were allowed to reopen last week. Industry stakeholders had said it was unfair that residential construction was excluded from this reopening.

Master Builders Association ACT chief executive Michael Hopkins welcomed the reopening but said the association was still concerned about limitations on some new projects, saying this would have an impact on smaller operators.

"Since the reopening of large-scale projects last Friday the construction industry has demonstrated it can safely operate and adhere to very strict COVID-19 safety requirements," Mr Hopkins said.

Mr Hopkins said there would be limits placed on the number of workers on new home and renovation projects. Projects that began before the August 12 lockdown could be completed, he said.

"New renovation projects such as bathroom renovations will not be allowed to start in premises occupied with residents if the project hasn't already commenced. This will place a great financial strain on the smallest businesses in our sector," Mr Hopkins said.

Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee told The Canberra Times earlier this week ACT businesses needed greater certainty on the path out of lockdown.

"There's no doubt that the Delta variant is a different beast. And we are seeing various jurisdictions around Australia, who are starting to acknowledge and deal with the fact that we may have to deal with this variant for the long term," Ms Lee said.

"And if so, what does that transition, the safe transition out of lockdown look like."

Mr Barr on Wednesday stressed the ACT would only gradually ease restrictions, to limit the risk of a large-scale virus outbreak in an predominantly unvaccinated community.

The ACT reported 20 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday.

Mr Barr last week said a reopening of the industry was dependent on the ACT's COVID situation, saying any worsening might contribute to a further delay.

"In relation to the construction sector, the partial reopening of the sector was outlined last week and this will commence under stringent COVIDSafe requirements this Friday. These requirements are going to be actively enforced by WorkSafe ACT and ACT Policing," Mr Barr said.

"The government will continue detailed work this week with industry stake-holders on the necessary strict COVID-safe requirements that would allow other parts of the construction sector - such as the residential construction sector - to recommence from 10 September, subject to the public health situation not deteriorating between now and then."

Picture: Shutterstock

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