COVID-19: All Pennsylvania Construction Reopens on Friday, May 1, 2020

covid-19 updates and news

Even though Governor Wolf has extended Pennsylvania's stay-at-home order until May 8, he also announced an exception permitting all construction across Pennsylvania to resume in-person operations on May 1, 2020 with strict restrictions. Beyond maintaining social distancing on the site, these restrictions include, for example, limitations on the number of workers permitted on the project site, naming a "Pandemic Safety Officer" for each project/site, staggering shifts and lunch breaks, limiting tool sharing, ensuring workers are traveling to and from the site separately, conducting virtual meetings and providing additional hand wash stations. There are restrictions that apply to all construction projects and also restrictions specific to the type of project - commercial, public, or residential.

Governor Wolf's Guidance for Businesses in the Construction Industry, which was prepared in consultation with the General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania, can be found in full by clicking here.

Keep in mind that if your business previously received a waiver from the stay-at-home order as a company or for a specific project, it may continue to operate under that waiver until May 1 following all prior restrictions and guidelines. Following May 1, you must follow all guidelines that pertain to the construction industry and the specific project type as set forth above.

Governor Wolf's allowance for construction to restart on May 1 came as a surprise as Governor Wolf recently vetoed legislation (Senate Bill 613) that would have allowed certain businesses to return to work with a safe COVID-19 mitigation plan, including the reopening of all construction projects in the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania was one of only four states that had an outright ban on construction during the COVID-19 outbreak.

With the Governor's COVID-19 restrictions, construction will not be business as usual even when it returns on May 1. However, it is good news for the "more than 260,000 hard-working men and women in Pennsylvania's construction trades…" as Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) said in a statement he released following Governor Wolf's announcement. Speaker Turzai had authored House Bill 2400, a construction-specific bill permitting a waiver to all construction activities across the Commonwealth if they adhered to mitigation techniques and CDC guidelines. While the bill did not make it through the General Assembly onto Governor Wolf's desk yet, Governor Wolf and Speaker Turzai's conversations regarding the restart of the construction industry proved effective in leading to the May 1 reopening of Pennsylvania's construction industry.