CIF calling for reopening of construction in April

Updated / Saturday, 13 Mar 2021 19:54
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By Fergal O'Brien

The Director General of the Construction Industry Federation is warning that the Level 5 restrictions are having a significant impact on house building and he says it is crucial the industry reopens fully in early April.

Tom Parlon's comments come as concerns grow over rising Covid-19 case numbers and what impact it will have on any easing of restrictions.

The Taoiseach has said he is concerned that the number of new cases remains high.

Micheál Martin said the numbers will determine the Government's announcement in relation to what restrictions could be eased on 5 April.

Non-essential construction sites have been closed since 8 January but the restriction is due to be among the measures considered for easing next month.

Mr Parlon said 800 fewer houses are being built each week that the closure remains in place.

"The lockdown means we are producing around 800 each week we are locked-down less than we should be, so we are heading for the 10,000 mark now," he said.

"We are into our third month, so we are not going to regain those next year, that just is impossible."

Mr Parlon said he is also concerned about the viability of companies in the sector and the loss of "thousands of workers to every other jurisdiction" where building work is continuing.

"Construction firms will not be able to recover from this if we don't get opened soon. We will have a massive overhang to carry," he said.

Mr Parlon said the sector has "really strict standard operating procedures and we are measured weekly by the HSE. The figures for construction for Covid outbreaks are so negligible".

"The spike in numbers is not happening in construction and it seems grossly unfair and ridiculous to me that the construction industry would suffer, be locked-down, and the whole economy around it would be put at such jeopardy when we are doing a good job and not being responsible for the current Covid outbreak."

He said representatives of the construction industry are to meet with members of the National Public Health Emergency Team on Tuesday, where the issue will be discussed.

"We have to base decisions on evidence. The evidence is very clear, construction sites are safe, outbreaks on sites are negligible and there is a massive effort to avoid any clusters on sites," he added.

The Department of Health has been notified of 16 further deaths associated with Covid-19 today and an additional 543 cases.