Among the main contractors, Multiplex said it was shutting down all sites in England and Scotland. Mace and Wates have both opted for a 48-hour shut down of sites from this evening to take stock of the fast-changing situation. And ISG said it would close those sites that could not meet new social distancing rules.
Regional contractor Speller Metcalfe said it would be shutting virtually all of its sites today while Carey Group will be winding down its site operations over the next 72 hours.
Some of the country’s major house builders like Taylor Wimpey, Barratt, Bovis Homes and Galliard Homes also opted to shut down their sites across the country.
A spokesman for Multiplex confirmed that chief operating officer Callum Tuckett had emailed all staff last night announcing plans to shut down its major London sites and sites in Scotland until further notice.
Mace said: “While the Prime Minister’s announcement allowing the construction sector to continue working was welcomed, it has become clear that we are unable to comply with Public Health England recommendations on social distancing of our workforce.
“We therefore have made the difficult decision today to temporarily suspend all of Mace’s site operations – with the exception of safety critical work – for at least the next 48 hours from 5pm this evening.”
ISG said it will suspend sites today which “cannot meet an enhanced risk profile test”.
Chief executive Paul Cossell said: “We must act now and do so decisively to protect the welfare of people across the industry.
“I believe that by taking this decisive action we will keep our people, customers, supply chain and the general public safe. Nothing is more important.”
Leading London developer Galliard decided to close all of its sites employing 2,500 workers across the capital and Birmingham with immediate effect.
Stephen Conway, Executive Chairman of Galliard said: “Our business was born in London and we are committed to the capital, but during these unprecedented times the safety of our construction staff, families and our London communities is paramount.
“We believe that by taking our staff out of daily commuting we will help to free up London’s Transport Network for the NHS and key workers who are protecting sick and vulnerable people across the capital.”
Galliard said it remains “open for business”on the sales side with the team working from home, using video and other technology to market homes remotely to buyers.”
Taylor Wimpey said: “In the interest of customer and employee safety, we have taken the decision to close all of our show homes, sales centres, and construction sites for all work except that needed to make the sites safe and secure.”
Speller Metcalfe said: “This morning we made the decision to temporarily close the vast majority of our construction sites.
“With Government advice currently unclear, we have agreed that the morally responsible course of action is to suspend site operations as soon as is possible, in order to reduce risk to our staff and our supply chain and in the national interest of preserving life.
“Our site teams are currently working hard to ensure that sites are shut down safely and securely, as well as making preparations for safe and prompt continuation of works as soon as we are able to do so.
“The only sites which will remain open are those where we are delivering critical works for the NHS – ensuring the well-being of those who continue to work on these sites will be our number one priority and we will be working closely with our clients and supply chain to ensure all possible measures are in place to ensure social distancing and enhanced hygiene regimes are adhered to at all times.”
Britain’s biggest house builder Barratt plans to close 400 sales offices and sites by the end of Tuesday, while Bovis Homes said teams would be onsite for the short term to make them safe and secure.