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Gov. Cuomo: New York Construction Sites Can Operate Without Restriction

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives a press conference March 17, 2020, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Construction work in New York City will be allowed to continue at full capacity, despite calls for an industry-wide halt earlier this week amid the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo deemed construction work essential in an executive order he signed Wednesday, which mandated many other workplaces have 50% of their employees work from home or not at all starting Friday at 8 p.m., in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. 

He increased these restrictions to 75% in a tweet Thursday morning, but did not specify when that measure would go into effect. 

Construction is among the several industries Cuomo has exempted from this order, including residential service work, health, food, grocery, sanitation, government and emergency relief. 

Earlier this week, two New York City Council members called for a temporary shutdown of construction sites, saying it put workers at risk for contracting the illness. Boston Mayor Martin Walsh halted construction there until further notice earlier this week, and its neighbor, Cambridge, Massachusetts, followed suit Thursday.

Construction has been allowed to continue in other cities across the U.S., and construction advocates nationally and in New York pushed back against the idea of a temporary ban and argued the move would leave the economy in more trouble after the virus, Bisnow previously reported

“As Governor Cuomo noted, some construction is essential, and we must continue building critical infrastructure … that sustains the lifeblood of our city,” New York Building Congress President and CEO Carlo Scissura said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

This essential work includes projects such as housing, schools and transportation, he said. 

“A full mandate to close every construction site could be devastating for New York as a whole,” Scissura said.