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Cuomo Changes Course, Deems Most New York Construction Nonessential

The coronavirus response has finally hit New York construction as many sites prepare to close after new restrictions on building were handed down by the governor.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at his daily coronavirus briefing March 26, where he said he was considering tightening restrictions for construction work.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo reversed his decision to allow construction in New York to continue without restriction as COVID-19 cases in the city soared past 39,000 Friday, Jack Sterne, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, confirmed to Bisnow Friday. 

The new restrictions will limit construction sites that can continue to work at full capacity to those building emergency sites, public work sites, hospitals, affordable housing and homeless shelters, according to new guidelines issued by Cuomo's office Friday. Sites will be subjected to a $10K fine if social distancing and other safety measures aren't followed. 

The move comes after news broke earlier this week that safety protocols weren't being followed at certain sites. The sites mentioned — such as one luxury condominium project — will be considered nonessential under these new guidelines. 

The construction industry had anticipated tighter restrictions for days

Safety has been a priority for construction firms and they will accept the restrictions as what is best for the health of workers and the public, New York Buildings Congress President and CEO Carlo Scissura said in an interview Friday. 

“Health and safety are No. 1,” he said. "The industry has been saying that since the beginning."

Now, as many workers close sites down and go home, the industry is taking this time to plan ahead for what business will look like after this is all over. 

“Historically, construction has helped kick off the economy,” Scissura said. “We’re going to need a lot more building and a lot more construction when we get out of this ... maybe it is time for a new grand building plan, with new vision.”