Philadelphia Gov. Tom Wolf ordered construction sites across Pennsylvania to shut down
As part of business closures to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), Gov. Tom Wolf ordered construction sites across Pennsylvania to shut down.
Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states to stop all active construction, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer. Exceptions are sites granted waivers for medical-related work, emergency repairs and limited residential work.
Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai plans to introduce a bill Friday to require the state to grant a waiver to allow all public and private construction work that can be done to push forward, following social distancing and other guidelines, of course.
According to a letter to fellow lawmakers, Turzai alleges infrastructure jobs are vital.
“Halting home building sites and commercial construction sites has resulted in homes and other structures sitting half-finished and, as a result, poses risks to public health and safety that must be immediately addressed,” said Turzai. “Leaving partially built homes and other construction sites exposed to the elements will compromise the integrity of building materials and add additional financial loss.”
Builders are concerned partially completed job sites could invite illegal activities or squatters, damaging storm water runoff, or mold. To prevent the further spread of COVID-19, the DEP stated that contractors will be advised to follow social distancing while performing emergency work.
Emergency repairs and projects that pose an imminent hazard can be completed, such as fixing a roof or stabilizing unfinished structures from weather, said Will Giesey, president of the Chester and Delaware County chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
Philadelphia has up to 20,000 construction jobs, reported Leo Addimando, president of the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia. Building industry groups have been encouraging members to apply for waivers and the state Department of Community and Economic Development is accepting requests, encouraging any company that is unsure whether its work is considered essential to apply.
While general construction is suspended, residential construction projects that are substantially completed, particularly if they have final occupancy permits, can continue.
Emergency repairs are also allowed, but builders are unsure what is considered an emergency.