The construction industry has begun a “drip-feed back towards normality” with the gradual re-opening of building suppliers and construction sites in Northern Ireland, an industry body has said.

A number of large construction firms have confirmed to the News Letter they have begun a return to work.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in Northern Ireland, meanwhile, has issued guidance to its members on how to return to work whilst still maintaining social distancing.

FMB Northern Ireland director Gavin McGuire told the News Letter: “Companies are starting to think in terms of going back. We know it is going to come to an end but social distancing isn’t, so it’s a question of how do we operate safely.

Several construction sites across Northern Ireland have re-opened. Photo by Press Eye.

Several construction sites across Northern Ireland have re-opened. Photo by Press Eye. Copyright: Press Eye Ltd 5A Hawthorn Office Park 45 Stockmans Way Belfast BT9 7ET

“FMB have produced a guide for construction companies who are planning to go back to work with some of the things they need to do.


“Now, more of the merchants have started to re-open again and it is the start of a sort of drip-feed back towards normality.”


He added: “There are wider issues in place around public health and our members have taken a mature approach to that. That will continueBuilding firm Hagan Homes, meanwhile, confirmed that it is resuming construction on eight of its construction sites in Belfast, Carrickfergus, Antrim and Lisburn.


Company founder James Hagan said: “Hagan Homes stopped construction on all of its sites at the end of March as we wanted to protect our contractors and their staff. Government advice was that construction sites could remain open if they were outdoor and if social distancing takes place - this advice hasn’t changed.


“I have reviewed the construction phases at all of our sites and, working closely in partnership with our contractors, have determined schedules of work that can be safely progressed, whilst adhering to strict social distancing.”


Mr Hagan added: “Our contractors will be back on site and will be complying with Construction Employer Federation (CEF) guidance and the government’s social distancing guidelines.

“Personal protective equipment will also be made available to anyone accessing the sites.”


Farrans Construction said that while it has had essential construction sites operating throughout the coronavirus pandemic, a “phase of planned returns” has now begun for other locations.


Managing director John Wilson told the News Letter: “We have had sites providing front line services operating right through the Covid-19 crisis, notably in a drive for additional ward space at Altnagelvin Hospital.


“In general we have had operations suspended in most locations but are now in a phase of planned returns. Some sites have reopened today and others over the next two weeks.”

He added: “We will have a clearer picture of this in the next few days.”





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