Most Illinois construction to remain essential during COVID-19 pandemic despite New York close-down

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Illinois is unlikely to follow New York’s lead in restricting the classification of most construction work as “essential”, says Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

However, he said construction companies need to maintain social distancing among workers and, if they don’t, that’s a concern.

“Anybody that is concerned about that certainly should be reporting to the Department of Public Health or letting my administration know,” Pritzker was quoted as saying by Block Club Chicago. “Much of what is being done is essential work … and we don’t want anybody to be at risk, but we also want to make sure we’re continuing the necessary work across the state.”

New York originally allowed a wide range of construction work to continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic, but there was an outcry from workers asserting unsafe conditions, and a few of them reported they had become infected. Last Friday, the state government abruptly changed the rules, restricting construction work to a narrowly defined group of emergency categories such as infrastructure, hospitals and affordable housing.

Construction companies should continue to abide by the city’s COVID-19 guidelines, said Mimi Simon, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Buildings.

New York Department of Buildings sets out rules for emergency work during COVID-19 shutdown

Encompass Audio Visual president Tim Pickett said his company has  already lost 70 percent of its business. The Elk Gove Village subcontractor was quoted as saying during a virtual panel that subcontractors typically pay for their materials up front and receive payment 60 to 90 days after a project is completed.

If job sites shut down today subcontractors will likely burn through the money they have within a couple months then, when allowed to resume work, struggle to pay for materials, Pickett said.

“Cash flow is our number one concern Maintaining employee security, making sure they feel secure and have jobs. … These are some of the challenges we’re facing.”

“Subcontractors live on draws from bank,” he said. “The subcontractors are the end of the food chain unfortunately in terms of getting paid.”

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