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Coronavirus Update: Non-Essential Construction Projects Ordered To Stop In New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - As New Yorkers practice social distancing, concerns have been raised about construction workers doing the opposite.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced changes on where construction can now take place during the coronavirus crisis.

New York may be on pause, but one thing that hasn't been - construction. Until Friday.

"Non-essential construction is going to be stopped," Cuomo said.

MORE: Guidance For If A Business Is Subject To A Workforce Reduction Under Recent Executive Orders

"So luxury condos will not be built until this is over, office buildings are not going to be built. So that works going to end immediately. We need to protect people," de Blasio said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The new measures follow concerns about workers getting too close to get the job done.

Work can and will continue on roads, bridges, health care facilities, utilities and affordable housing are all deemed essential.

A project on Broadway and Dey Street is mixed-use affordable housing. Thirty percent of the rental units will be affordable. Robert Cerrone is vice president of operations at All Island Masonry and Concrete, and hopes work there can go on, saying halting construction "would delay New York City. Construction is a big part of New York City. Hundreds of thousands of workers out here every day, providing for their family, and we consider ourselves essential."

A construction crew walked CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis through the site, pointing out safety measures being taken.

"Sanitizing everything that guys use commonly: Hand tools, drills," said FSG Electric project foreman Alex Robarge.

"Do you feel safe?" DeAngelis asked.

"Yeah. The contractor has made it very comfortable for us to work in this hectic time," Robarge said.


Before workers can even enter the site, they have to meet with a physician's assistant who checks them for symptoms and takes their temperature using a thermal scanner, DeAngelis reported.

"If they are deemed hot, we have a secondary scan that we do which is with an oral thermometer or non-contact thermometer as well, to have accuracy," said physicians assistant Nadeem Mir.

For construction sites not shutting down under the new order, they must follow the rules: Maintain social distance and safety practices, or close. The state ill enforce this and fine violators up to $10,000.

PHOTO GALLERY: Life In New York City Under The Coronavirus

DeAngelis spoke to a superintendent for a general contractor who does commercial work. Under the new guidelines, he won't be able to work, but believes it's what's best.

"In the end, the well being and health of everyone is more important than a couple weeks worth of paychecks. Some people may be worse off than others but money is there to be made, the well being and health of general community and citizens is most important," he said.

His perspective: The sooner we all distance, the faster we can all be back together working, building and rebuilding the economy.

NYCDCC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Joseph A. Geiger released a statement about the decision to shut down non-essential construction work:

During this extreme crisis, difficult decisions must be made to ensure the future of not just one, but millions of New Yorkers and countless others in our region. While we know it may not have been an easy decision, we commend Governor Cuomo's order to temporarily shut down nonessential construction in New York. We believe his decision will keep many construction workers safe and ultimately save many lives. The order was released earlier today, and the District Council is working with our partners in government to determine which jobs will be impacted. The staff at the District Council will be working tirelessly with the Benefit Funds to keep every member updated and informed as we navigate the impact the order will have. Many of our union brothers and sisters are on the front lines combating this deadly virus. Members across the state are answering the call for help by responding to emergency jobs, building out desperately needed hospital capacity, and ensuring critical infrastructure projects move forward. I have never been prouder to be a part of this extraordinary union. During trying times, we continually prove that we can rise to the occasion.

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