Earlier today, the Ford government announced extended measures for essential construction projects throughout the province.
This comes after Ford ordered all businesses not covered by the updated Emergency Order to close effective as of Saturday, April 4 at 11:59 pm. The closure is in effect for 14 days, with the possibility of an extension as the situation evolves.
Under the new orders, only critical construction projects were allowed to continue, including industrial projects such as refineries and petrochemical plants and infrastructure projects such as new hospitals, roads, and bridges. New starts in residential projects would stop, while residential construction that is near completion would be allowed to continue.
Today's announcement is framed around social distancing and helping to speed up hospital builds and expansions:
"In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, Ontario is extending construction hours for essential construction projects, like critical projects in the health care sector, to 24 hours a day. Work on new hospital builds, expansions, and COVID-19 assessment centres will be able to continue any time of the night or day in order to help accelerate the construction of these important projects and enable employers to take additional steps to protect the health and safety of workers on these job sites."
That said, there are no strict directions provided that would suggest construction projects already falling under the "essential" category – including the aforementioned residential and industrial projects unrelated to COVID-19 – are not included in the new 24-hour policy.
According to the province, local noise By-laws have been temporarily limited from applying to these types of essential construction activities as of yesterday, April 7. It is the province's belief that "extending hours for essential construction will also give worksite managers more flexibility to stagger shifts, limit the number of people in one place, and take reasonable precautions to keep workers safe and healthy under the recent guidelines issued by Ontario's Chief Prevention Officer for construction sites."
"We're helping to protect the health and safety of construction workers and ensure that critical health care-related construction projects continue during this outbreak," said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Business-owners with questions concerning their essential business status are encouraged to call the Stop the Spread hotline at 1-888-444-3659. The hotline is available from 8:30 am― 9 pm Monday to Friday and 8:30 am— 5 pm Saturday and Sunday.