Project teams in New York City may be fined up to $10,000 if found working on non-essential or non-emergency construction—or if workers on projects that are allowed to continue don't practice social distancing to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus, say new city Dept. of Buildings protocols.
The New York state fine, announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 27, takes effect in the city on March 31, according to the DOB, which announced on March 30 that such behaviors “will lead to enforcement actions from the department” such as the fine.
Cuomo also said on March 29 that under a new directive lasting until April 28, work on non-essential construction projects would be restricted and that “all continuing construction projects shall utilize best practices to avoid transmission of COVID-19.”
Essential construction includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters, according to the DOB. When halting a non-essential project before it is finished would cause an unsafe condition, that project would be considered emergency construction work, according to the agency.
At essential or emergency non-essential sites, if project teams can’t maintain social distances even on elevators or at meal, entry and exit points, they “must close and enforcement will be provided by” state, local and city governments, according to the DOB.
The agency is "ready to enforce this critical ban on non-essential construction to help protect New Yorkers during this pandemic,” Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca said. “At the same time, we will be out in force inspecting sites so that emergency and necessary construction work continues in a safe manner. Anyone breaking these rules should expect stiff enforcement.”
In a bulletin also released March 30, the DOB detailed specific instructions on stalled work. It requires sites to be properly secured and maintained the entire length of the shutdown, with special requirements for sites still in the excavation or foundation phase, and for suspended sites in existing buildings.
Requirements for all suspended sites include weekly safety inspections and accurate logs for them, safety maintenance of public sidewalks and walkways adjacent to the site, removal of garbage, and safe storage of equipment and materials.
The department also said it will rescind all previously issued After Hours Variance (AHV) permits—which are required to perform any work at night or on the weekend and going forward will only be issued for approved essential or emergency work.