Here’s a glimpse of some coronavirus construction restrictions in a few key states. For much more detail see the statewide interactive map and delayed projects reports below from ConstructConnect, a software and information firm that helps commercial construction firms.
New York coronavirus construction restrictions
At the end of March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo halted most construction statewide. Under the new directive, most residential and commercial construction is suspended. Some crucial work, including on infrastructure, hospitals, and affordable housing, along with emergency repairs, will be permitted.
Initially, all construction in the state was classified as “essential” and exempt from the state’s PAUSE order, which mandates all nonessential workers stay home. In updated guidance, the state declared that “all nonessential construction must shut down except emergency construction.” Those who violate the new rule could face fines up to $10,000, according to city and state officials.
In certain emergency circumstances, nonessential construction may move forward, such as to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow it to remain unfinished.
As reported in Curbed, the order puts the kibosh on entirely luxury residential and office construction, but still permits work on apartment buildings with a majority of market rate units. Guidance on the updated mandate by the city’s Department of Buildings notes that construction is allowed on buildings where no less than 30 percent of the apartments are below-market rate or on projects that include Mandatory Inclusionary Housing—a zoning mechanism that mandates either 25 or 30 percent of a building’s units be set aside as below market rate.
At the end of March Governor Jay Inslee stated that all residential and commercial construction must stop, with exceptions for emergency repairs and construction related to government functions, like publicly financed low-income housing.
Only emergency repairs are allowed statewide, according to Gov. Tom Wolfe’s guidelines. However, thousands of waivers have reportedly been filed and construction is continuing in some areas.
On April 6, The House State Government Committee approved a bill that would allow all residential and commercial construction projects to resume if workers take precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vote was 15-10. House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) is the prime sponsor of the legislation, House Bill 2400.
New Jersey restrictions
On April 8, NJ Gov. Phil Murphy ordered that all non-essential construction in New Jersey must stop by Friday at 8 p.m. in the latest escalation of his lockdown restrictions to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
Murphy included exemptions for construction projects that involve hospitals, schools, affordable housing, transportation, utility work, emergency repairs and individual housing sites that can continue to operate under strict social distancing guidelines. He did not detail those restrictions.
Importantly, the state director of emergency management, who is the superintendent of state police, is empowered with the discretion to make additions, amendments, clarifications, exceptions, and exclusions to the terms of the executive order.
Other coronavirus construction restrictions
As of April 1, the city of Los Angeles allows “any work necessary to to build, operate, maintain or manufacture essential infrastructure, including without limitation construction of commercial, office and institutional buildings, residential buildings, and housing” in its stay-at-home order. Mayor Eric Garcetti also announced that the city is forming a special coronavirus inspection team that will visit construction sites to make sure proper safety protocols are followed.
The governor of California, Democrat Gavin Newsom, said that even though Bay Area leaders halted most construction he did not plan to do so statewide. Newsom said he was working “very closely with the building construction trades,” and he said they deserve praise for the efforts they’ve taken to ensure workers and community members are protected.
Chicago is allowing “construction required in response to this public health emergency, hospital construction, construction of long-term care facilities, public works construction, and housing construction.”
The city of Boston enacted an indefinite construction moratorium, but is allowing work on buildings that promote public health and safety, like hospitals; work to make residential buildings fully habitable; and other limited small-scale residential construction projects.
In other areas, construction remains unchanged. Construction of Amazon’s HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia, is on schedule.
List of Statewide Delayed Projects Reports (PDF)
Interactive coronavirus map including county-by-county and other resources