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Coronavirus Update: San Jose Officials Consider Easing Restrictions For Construction Work

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- While most businesses will remain closed under shelter in place, things could soon be loosening up for some types of work in the South Bay, including construction.

"The opportunity with construction is that it is a heavily regulated industry. People are trained, particularly with union environments. They're trained for workplace safety," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

Downtown San Jose had several major construction sites that were in progress when the shelter in place.

"They sent everyone away due to the coronavirus," said construction worker Chris Hernandez on April 1st. Hernandez told KPIX 5 at the time that workers were adapting to new safety measures.

"We don't share tools, we don't share ladders.  Everyone keeps six feet away, so everyone did good," Hernandez said.

Construction unions are now lobbying Santa Clara County Supervisors to loosen restrictions. Chavez said construction is one of a handful of businesses supervisors are looking at that could come back sooner and safely.

"I would be looking, not just at construction but other industries where a core characteristic is focused on safety," Chavez said.

Some construction sites have remained open under shelter in place, especially those creating emergency housing like this one, or core government infrastructure.

Most, but not all of the workers on one site in downtown San Jose were seen wearing masks and keeping their distance.

But Chavez said the one thing government must avoid doing is jumping the gun.

"What we want to make sure of is that we don't throw away all of the hard work we have done, all of the sacrifices we have made as communities," she said.

A decision on whether to reopen construction sites is expected later this week.

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