During the Prime Minister’s speech to the nation announcing plans to ease the lockdown in England, Boris Johnson actively urged the construction industry to resume working.
Many in the industry needed little encouragement to get back to work – indeed many had already started their return to work with social distancing measures in place. Government advice during the COVID-19 pandemic has always been that construction sites can continue to operate as long as they can do so safely, and in line with strict social distancing guidelines on site. Guidance from the Construction Leadership Council first issued in March has supported the construction industry by providing a blueprint for safety which has kept a number of sites open, kept projects on schedule and kept workers in jobs.
Those construction sites that closed and are preparing to reopen have been using the time to develop plans to ensure they can resume operations safely with additional measures in place to protect their employees and the public. Many sites have been adopting new measures and new technologies to keep workforces and the public safe, including staggered shift working, one way walkways and daily body temperature checks using high tech thermal imaging cameras.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has demonstrated the exceptional value of the UK’s construction industry and the vital role it plays in our economic growth. Government wants the momentum in the construction industry to continue. In a Downing Street COVID-19 briefing, Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, told the industry that it needs to start delivering major projects faster and applying the same swiftness to projects like NHS Nightingale to other UK construction projects. He also acknowledged that Government had a role to play to help projects advance more swiftly:
“We somehow managed to do things in weeks that would normally take years. Building new hospitals, moving public services online, making instant reforms and fast-tracking new laws. We want to ensure we can maintain this momentum.”
The outbreak of COVID-19 has demonstrated the exceptional value of the UK’s construction industry and the vital role it plays in our economic growth. The sector has shown its resilience, its determination and sheer breadth, with projects ranging from houses to hospitals to roads and railways.
It hasn’t been an easy ride for the industry reputationally, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic there was confusion on whether sites should remain open or closed and companies who remained operational faced criticism for allowing work to continue and workers to return to sites.
At Copper, we’ve been working to support our clients in the construction sector with strategic communications support during the worst public health crisis in a generation, helping companies navigate through the challenges of communicating during a global pandemic and develop new ways of reaching stakeholders whilst simultaneously protecting their reputations as responsible businesses.
As the nation turns its focus to facilitating and preparing returns to work, the construction industry has shown its ability to meet the challenge of COVID-19, adapting to uncertainty and leading the way for other businesses returning their people to work.